From selling fish to a making a fortune in Africa – farewell the king of the property castle

PUBLISHED: Mon, 20 Apr 2020 19:09:30 GMT

By Chris Bishop  

He was the personable and avuncular hard worker who sweated his way to a fortune in a 40-year journey from the shop floor to the penthouse suite.

Marc Wainer, who has died aged 71, interviewed me on television, back in 2017,  for one of his pet projects – the Mentorship Challenge for CNBC Africa. I found him to be a polite and humble soul who was passionate about the quest to help others. The next time he spoke to me was to invite me to Poland with a South African delegation to help convince investors that South Africa was open for business.

“We need strong, credible, voices from the business world out there. We have to fight for the future of this country,” told me down the telephone with passion. Sadly, I could not make it.

It was a world away from where Wainer started his working life in the grocery and  fish shop owned by his parents, in Yeoville, in downtown Johannesburg. He went into property as a developer and investors and spent 40 years building Redefine Properties into a top 40 listed company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange worth more than R100 billion.

Wainer was as astute deal maker and transformed Redefine Properties into a global REIT with interests in commercial property in  Poland, United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. He retired from the company in August.

“I am at a loss for words and deeply saddened by Marc’s passing away. He leaves a void in the lives of people in the entire property sector who did not escape his characteristic wit, infectious laughter and his genuine love and concern for those he worked with,” says Andrew Konig, the CEO of Redefine Properties.

“Marc was a true family man and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. His passing away is also a huge loss to the sector and we will all miss his guidance and encouragement. Marc always said that people are the only thing that matter. Our tribute to him will be who we say we are and continue to grow the business he founded, and manage and create our spaces in a way that purposefully changes lives.”

Wainer’s wit was legendary and will recalled by most who met him. When once asked about how to make it in the property game he replied: “It is not rocket science, which is why we can do it. We don’t have MBAs, we have MBWAs – Management By Walking Around.”

Farewell the sage of simple common sense.  

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