The initial strategy for the investment portfolio was to create an income and asset base which would be the financial foundation for the whole family, but we soon realised there was an opportunity to provide a property-investment service for the wider marketplace.
Having successfully purchased a number of properties for friends and associates, it became apparent that not only was there was a high demand for property investment, but that the existing services provided by many estate agents were simply not good enough for serious investors. This is why MiNC Property Enterprises quickly diversified and provided different services, including property management, lettings, furnishings, sales and acquisitions.
But MiNC always strived to do more than simply buy and sell property and property services. One of MiNC’s greatest achievements during this era was to develop a sharia-compliant investment model for London serviced apartments; the first of its kind. With backing from the Kuwaiti bank, Boubyan, the fund’s main goal was to acquire rundown two/three star hotels and convert them to contemporary serviced apartments. Despite the changing marketplace in mid 2008, all but one of the £70m of acquisitions in the fund were sold at a higher price.
In tandem with our Canary Wharf operation, the summer of 1998 saw MiNC’s first foray into the international markets. After exhibiting at the Overseas Property Exhibition in Dubai, we impressed the chairman of the Dubai British Business Group, Brian Wilkie, who soon became a great ally of the firm. As well as purchasing a number of properties, it was his advice that inspired us to open our Dubai office.
Haroon took the chance and left his role with Mars in 2001 to front up the operation. In only a year, it had grown from a three-person office to being big enough to occupy a third of a floor in the iconic Emirates Towers. Brian Wilkie was right: there really was a lack of quality advice for ex pats looking to invest in London property.
During 2003, MiNC took the opportunity to open an office in Johannesburg. There was clearly a great appetite in the local community to invest in overseas property, so it only took three months to turn an idea into a fully functioning South African operation.
With an office based in the Rosebank area of Johannesburg and a regular presence at property events across South Africa, MiNC developed a significant foothold in a fruitful marketplace – these were boom times for the South African economy.
In partnership with a high profile and experienced IFA firm, MiNC achieved significant sales to the British ex-pat community. The business also exhibited extensively in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, building a strong reputation for providing an excellent turnkey service.
This was a very successful period for the company – the MiNC brand had become genuinely global.