Secure Portuguese residency via the popular Golden Visa programme

Sable International and BomPorto Hotels present the Rebello Private Equity Fund. Qualifying at a minimum investment of €500,000, investors can enjoy Portuguese residency with the perks of visa-free travel to Schengen areas and the option of applying for work towards Portuguese citizenship. Rebello Luxury Hotel Apartments is located on the banks of the River Douro in Porto, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This stunning development will encompass 106 apartments within a five-star hotel, two restaurants, a gym, a destination spa with indoor and outdoor pools and a fashionable rooftop bar. BizNews founder Alec Hogg was joined by Sable International managing director Andrew Rissik and MorningBridge investment director Ceri John to unpack the current window of opportunity.

Andrew Rissik on the background of Sable International

We are a very strong South African DNA business, headquartered in London. We’ve been around for over 26 years working in the cross-border space, particularly with South African clients. We position ourselves as experts in all the fields one needs to consider when investing offshore, whether it’s for pure investment, plan B or even relocation. The Portugal Golden Visa is a well-known programme that we’ve been promoting in South Africa since it was launched in October 2012 by the Portuguese Government. Today, around 300 families have acquired the Golden Visa using Sable International, so we are pretty well versed. The real salient points of the programme are that it’s a great plan B because, through a qualifying investment, the main investor can qualify for Portuguese residency for themselves, their spouse and their dependant children without having to physically live in Portugal. It’s a great way to get the clock ticking, so to speak, towards a European citizenship while conducting life in South Africa. It is a really nice insurance policy and has become the most popular residency programme globally. We’ve had some logistical challenges since Covid-19 but we still really like Portugal.

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Andrew Rissik on South Africans being a significant part of the Golden Visa makeup

To date, there are close to ten thousand families or main investors who have been approved and are legal Portuguese residents. South Africa is sitting at 428 approved applicants. There are still a lot of people sitting in the pipeline waiting to be approved. South Africans are quite a significant part of the Golden Visa makeup and it is something you hear people chatting about at dinner parties. The interesting number to look at is over €5bn in direct investment through the programme. That’s not talking about the fact that applicants need to spend seven days a year in Portugal with the family. There are lots of other economic and financial benefits to Portugal. The Portuguese Government has always been very supportive of the principle of the programme.

Andrew Rissik on the large South African network in Portugal  

There is a great South African network. In fact, I’m moving to Portugal. We are expanding our business into the EU because of Brexit and because of all the clients we have in Portugal. Over the years, I have spent probably two or three months a year in Portugal and there is a superb community from all over South Africa. A lot of the people I bump into are English- and Afrikaans-speaking South Africans with no past ancestral ties to Portugal. There is definitely a real trend of South Africans relocating to the northern hemisphere these days, many choosing Portugal. Remote working has certainly contributed to that. They’re very interested in getting tech start-ups. Outside of the Golden Visa, there are some really interesting options for South Africans.

Ceri John on MorningBridge

MorningBridge offers qualifying investments for the golden residency visa. It is a Portuguese development company set up by myself and a number of other colleagues from the UK. Our first development was called the Lumie Irish, an apartment hotel. The market we were going for was the golden residency visa market, which back in 2014 was very much based on a property play. In order to qualify, you had to invest half a million euros into property, and that gave you the opportunity to apply for the golden residency visa. We have found it takes quite a large leap of faith to turn up in South Africa, for example, and say: “Give me half a million euros and I’ll build you an apartment in a different continent on the other side of the world.” So, we decided to stay in the development and create a hotel operating company to manage your investment for you. We developed a couple of other places as well for different residency programmes, the non-habitual tax residency.

Later we discovered a hotel that was being quite poorly managed within Lisbon, called The Vintage. The original idea was to purchase it, put our hotel operating company into it, turn it around and sell it in a couple of years. Then the Portuguese Government changed the golden residency visa criteria to allow for private equity schemes. So, we thought, we’re dealing with golden residency visa buyers in the €500,000 limit and if we wrap our hotel within a private equity fund, we can offer units within the private equity fund for €350,000. Therefore, capturing those who cannot reach the €500,000 level. We can exit our investor base early and operate it in exactly the same way for the economies of scope and scale. We have now done up to six projects within Portugal. The latest one is the Rebello comprising six old warehouses on the riverbank in Porto overlooking the UNESCO’s Heritage Site, which is old Porto. The development itself is made up of 106 apartments. We have sold 26 of them. So, the private equity scheme you would be investing in comprises the 80 apartments plus all the common areas, the car parks, the spa and gym, the restaurants and all the rest of it. It is being constructed as we speak.

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