Our founders – David, Irving and Jeffrey – the Triumvirate, nationally known as “The Solomon Brothers”, remain the driving force behind its dynamic culture and proud tradition of success through investment, innovation and integrity.
The brothers were all born, raised and remain resident in Cape Town. Parents, Willie and June Solomon, instilled a strong ethos of family loyalty and hard-work, always together.
David and Irving, a little over one year apart in age, left school with limited formal education, but even less capital, but with a burning ambition to succeed in business. Business acumen was clearly in their DNA. All of their innovative business ventures, tackled bravely with a pioneering spirit, were met with success….from direct marketing and retailing of ladies high-fashion footwear, to the manufacturing of ladies handbags, luggage and cooler bags, as well as ostrich farming in Namibia.
After completing his studies at the University of Cape Town, and articles at Kessel Feinstein (now Grant Thornton), and armed with a B.Comm CA(SA), Jeffrey joined his older brothers in business.
The Triumvirate was now complete – and The Solomon Brothers were ready for even bigger and more exciting business challenges.
Influenced by a family friend, who believed in real estate, and coupled with the need to diversify their investments, the Solomon Brothers soon identified their first commercial real estate acquisition – Rodene House, a six-story, light-industrial building in Bloem Street, Cape Town.
It was now 2001 and publicly-traded real estate companies were the trend. These JSE-listings generally took the form of Variable Loan-Stock companies, where shareholders received an interest-bearing debenture, linked to each ordinary share purchased. The interest rate of the debenture varied, according to the net pre-tax income of the company. Normally VLS’s paid out all, or most, of their income in the form of debenture interest, so that the income would be taxed in the hands of its shareholders, rather than the company, thereby avoiding two layers of taxation. REIT’s, already popular in the US, were yet to be born in South Africa, which still lacked the requisite, enabling Income Tax legislation.
Solomon Brothers Group was being pursued by many fledgling listed suitors, who wanted our real estate portfolio and reputation attaching to their new or recent listings.
In that year, we injected a portion of our portfolio into Arnold Property Fund Ltd, an IPO that debuted on the JSE, thereby becoming one of the listed companies largest shareholders and serving on its board of directors, as well as various key company committees.
Soon thereafter, we injected a further tranche of our portfolio into the recently listed Redefine Income Fund Ltd, again becoming its largest shareholder and serving on its board of directors and various key corporate committees – Investment Committee, Audit Committee and Remuneration Committee.
The “Entrepreneurial Bug” was biting.Our natural inclination to make deals swiftly, using our track-proven method of identifying undervalued opportunities, and deploying an array of innovative value-unlocks, was simply not being put to use, sitting in endless committee meetings.
So, we soon returned to what we loved – the coal-face of real estate. This time, we also opened some significant new divisions – Industrial development, Residential development and our Hospitality division.
During the heady days of the residential boom, prior to the 2008 sub-prime crisis, we developed, sold and delivered over 1,000 new homes.
Our newest division, high-end residential rental accommodation, is gathering momentum fast, following our development of the highly successful Versailles Residences in Three Anchor Bay – a 12-story tower, comprising 55 residences, with resort style amenities, such as gym, cinema and roof-top pool deck, complete with BBQ and dining facilities.