Mark Elie Klein is a Belgian self made business man, investor and real estate developer. He started his career in 1968, when he created his first company in Paris, France.
Mark Elie Klein is a Belgian self made business man, investor and real estate developer. He started his career in 1968, when he created his first company in Paris, France.
Executive Director, Chairman of the board and shareholder in the subsidiaries of Bank VERNES and Commercial of Paris. Mr. Jean-Marc Vernes also owner of the BEGHIN SAY GROUP. SFII (Société Financière d'Investissement Immobilier), COGERIM (Compagnie Générale de Rénovation Immobilière) and IFIG (Investissement Finance Immobilier de Gestion).
Then, he created in Belgium a real estate property of investment (C2M Company), then in France, Luxembourg and Denmark with Mr Christophe LAMBERT (film actor) and Mr Michel HALIMI (former advertising). Resale of buildings to the ``MORGAN STANLEY`` Bank.
“The future has many names. For the weak, it is called the impossible; For the timid, it is called the unknown; For the thinkers and for the valiant, it is called the ideal.” - Victor Hugo
A team with multiple and complementary skills is the key to the success of ET Development and its projects.
“Never doubt that a small group of determined people can change the world. In fact, it always worked like that.” - Margaret Mead
Beyond these partner companies, we mobilize all the necessary skills so each one participates in a better understanding of the customer needs to meet them with an innovative service.
EXTRACT OF THE BOOK “CITIZEN KLEIN”
KRACH … OR HOW TO AVOID IT
GATHERING AROUND THE GOOD SENSE
QUESTIONS TO AN ENTREPRENEUR
MARK ELIE KLEIN
Copyright © Mark Elie Klein 2011/2012 – All rights reserved in all countries – ‘Citizen Klein’ is a registered trademark. No part of this work may be reproduced in whole or in part without modification and without the written consent of Mark Elie Klein. Free and free circulation of the book in electronic form creates no exception in copyright prerogatives. Any infringement will be prosecuted. The persons mentioned or indirectly designated in the book are well-known to the public: all the comments in the book are a matter of freedom of opinion and expression, and can not in any way an intentional prejudice against them, or the responsibility of the author or the Mark Elie Klein Foundation.
Some of the first testimonials received,,,
<< From time to time a book appears that produces an electric shock and changes the lives of its readers. Citizen Klein falls into this category and exerts a positive influence on all those who have decided to take their destiny in charge>>
Paul-Loup Sulitzer, a prominent investor, and author of forty best sellers, the latest of which is << L’Empire du Nénuphar >>.
<< Even if one does not necessarily adhere to all the ideas of the book, one must admit that this pamphlet, published with a masterful forehand by the self-taught entrepreneur and anti-conformist, Mark Elie Klein, describes crudely but with a distinct sense of practice. They challenge us all individually and collectively.
In this book, the author proposes numerous tracks, one of which seems particularly interesting: the construction of houses in forms and conditions that make it possible to have it occupied as quick as possible as there is a shortage of social housing. This would result in a significant reduction of state budget, and an increase in collateral benefits. This example demonstrates we have the collective capacity to modify the course of things that are in conditions that prove troublesome to us. >>
Christian Motsch, Real Estate Expert
And the report of the reading committee of one of the greatest Parisian publishers, who asked to sign for a future release in bookstores.
<< An indignant entrepreneur who puts one foot in it.
If we were to eliminate all dishonest speculators, it would be a genocide! This is an amazing little breadcrumb, full of good sense, on the balance of the current economic chaos, which speaks to all the citizens of the world – clear, well-argued, without double-talk and written by an entrepreneur who has made a fortune. Pure and hard life. This book is a statement against the banking system and political negligence in the Western world for the last thirty years. The author may be indignant, but he provides solutions, albeit radical, such as nationalizing banks. Written in a direct style, often humorous, the book also presents bleeding portraits of decision makers and high-profile leaders who will recognize themselves for their practice of lies and the price of hypocrisy. After reading this book, the citizens who are eaten are all feeling like ‘Mr. Klein’.>>
<< The future has several names. For the weak, it is called the impossible; For the timid, it is called the unknown; For the thinkers and the valiant, it is called the ideal.>>
<< Bring me a man who wants to succeed for the benefit of the community, and I will make you an entrepreneur. Bring me a man who wants to succeed to enrich his caste to the detriment of the community, and I will make you a banker.>>
Mark Elie Klein
A series of interviews conducted by Anna Vandenberg, a student at Sciences Po
As a student at Sciences Po, I have always wanted to confront the theoretical nature of our teaching with experience in the field, and knowledge that is no longer inert but empirical, invested in action, applicable in the concrete. I met someone who epitomizes the « Street Smart » success model, in contrast to the « Book Smart » model.
Mark Elie Klein brings to the fore experienced entrepreneurs practical knowledge gained over a course of more than forty years from ground zero to the Elite League of Business. He stresses the need for persistence and tenacity. His trust in his instincts provides the natural orientation towards common sense. He encourages to visualize the final result and to organize its actions for this purpose. But above all, I question a man who is perfectly clear-sighted about the causes and stakes of the violent financial situation we are currently experiencing. His success could have enabled him to distance himself far from the consequences of this economic depression that does not end up pulling us down, of all those debts that my generation will inherit. On the contrary, he puts his long experience at the service of his fellow citizens, but also – beyond the borders – of all the initiators who find themselves prevented from advancing. Mark Elie Klein believes it is high time to rebuild a « New Deal » to finally emerge from the recession and return to the path of prosperity.
He believes that the 2012 elections will raise awareness and that the new executive as well as the newly elected or re-elected will have a major historical opportunity to implement the decisive solutions he advocates. This work summarizes all of our interviews.
1 – My motivation to write this book
– So? Why this title « Citizen Klein »? What is the meaning of this book?
– Dear Anna, I chose this title in an obvious nod to the masterpiece of Orson Welles, because it is precisely Citizen Klein who carries out a civic, simple, participation in the life of the the community. I’m not a guru, I do not run for a political office. I just want to share ideas from my own entrepreneurial experience in France and abroad. I love my country, France, where more than eight million of our fellow citizens live on less than € 954 per month. I could not remain indifferent to this fact. Throughout this book, I would like to encourage a large number of economic players of all sizes, notably craftsmen, traders, small and medium-sized enterprises, not to give up. I hope this motivates them and perhaps – who knows inspire them as well to seize to act.
-During our conversations to prepare this exchange, you seemed more than critical to me about the behavior of banks …
– It’s the least we can say. Speculative bubbles … credit crisis … sovereign debt crisis, the financial industry is pushing states, currency and economies to the brink of chaos. Shock treatment is essential. This election year provides us with an opportunity. Seize it. The few ideas we will discuss are my contribution.
–You think it’s time to eliminate all these irresponsible or sometimes dishonest speculators?
-Eliminating all dishonest speculators would be a genocide.
We’re starting strong! You understood that I wanted to say << change their operating system>>.
-When individuals act in a detrimental way on the whole of the society, they are removed .When the whole system turns out to be harmful, it changes .
– You think that your testimony can help the actors of the real economy and nourish the reflection of the political decision-makers. Is that the idea ?
– It goes much further. The manifesto of Stéphane Hessel « Indign You » allowed me to see that a booklet could trigger more than one hundred and fifty gatherings of individuals in all the capitals of the world who no longer bear to see their standard of living degrade more and more. However, unlike an angelic essay on generalities and good feelings, I want my book to catalyze the economic forces: craftsmen, traders, small and medium-sized entrepreneurs. I urge all those who refuse to consider the whirlwind of economic decline as inexorable. I advocate solutions that could restore confidence and encourage a return to growth. Finally, I invite all those who want to eject out of our lives the malignant financiers who have caused millions of people to lose their savings, jobs and homes. This reality is perfectly described in « Inside Job » of Charles Ferguson, the 2010 Oscar award winning documentary, which is summarized by the formula « the perfect hold-up ». I hope to receive many reactions from all those who, eighty years after Roosevelt, want to support a vast European New Deal in order to stimulate a major economic revival. Do not consider me as a destructor but as a liberator of corporate capitalism.
-You said that you were not trying to take the lead in any movement.
-I’ll tell you. I write with your assistance a book for citizens. I do not want any appointments. Nobody needs to braid me with crowns of laurels. I leave the possibility of contacting anyone who is willing to do so, but ideally I hope that various politicians and opinion leaders will seize the solutions I put forward to implement them. Forty years in the first division affairs allow me, at least I hope to bring some experience to the service of realistic action and a return to effective common sense, to overcome the crisis and combat impoverishment of our compatriots.
-In the course of our preliminary exchanges, I understood above all that your approach consisted in abounding the public debate so that we could at last see a light at the end of the tunnel of economic depression. That’s right ?
– Firstly, as an entrepreneur, the idea had long ago entertained me to write a book on the difficulties encountered by SMEs, SMIs, TPEs, craftsmen and other players to finance their growth. But in view of the seriousness of the double-dip crisis we are experiencing, I consider that this message is addressed to all of our fellow citizens. The urgency of the situation made me think that the time had come to make my voice heard. I also want to encourage the younger generation not to give up and seek to be innovative. At all times, even today, there are many opportunities to take. To get out of the infernal spiral of unemployment, I believe a lot in the way of the company. It is the only one that has no upper limit. Provided that the conditions for its financing, which are presently degraded, are restored.
– I would like to begin by understanding the reasons for this book, what itinerary led you to prepare it for, and what are the springs of this endless crisis for which you think you have solutions.
– With regards to my career and then the crisis, I planned to devote the next two chapters to it. As for the reasons for this book, I had begun to describe them to you. I proposed, on this occasion, to issue on the current situation the opinions and recommendations that allows the long experience of an entrepreneur. But there is also an emotional side. This book is dedicated to my son Antony who has just turned 17 in 2012 so that he knows the value of money and that he remains humble; I would like to show him that we can succeed through work, will and perseverance. My son Antony represents the most successful happiness and the greatest achievement of my life.
-We could start by telling us a little bit about your itinerary, which led you to constitute many companies, especially in real estate
– Willingly. I will mostly address my early beginnings, especially to those who are considering embarking on the adventure. I was 20 years old, and returning from military service. I must point out that I was not born with a golden spoon. I had to spend three hours every day traveling to see me inflict myself an occupation for 600 francs a month, which was extremely low. I was not the type to satisfy myself. When one has neither diplomas nor relations, and not a penny, the options are extremely limited. There remained one: sales. Choosing the best support: real estate. I have chained up the positions of negotiator. I discovered the business while doing the job. I learned something every day. When I finally landed a stable position, I had to come across the style of a boss who confused the turnover with the profits in order to finance a lifestyle of a nabob. It did not last long, it eventually filed for bankruptcy and I found myself checking for job postings.
I then tried to sell myself all over the place, presenting myself to a string of realtors. This was done in vain as I tried to prove to them that I could realize the turnover of two or three collaborators, but I only met with rebuffs. Even by giving up any fixed salary, only paid to the commission, there was nothing to be done.
-Apparently, already at that time, we had to cling to find work…
–You had to be tough. As I had my back against the wall, I had to fall back on renting apartments, paid at the signing of each contract. I entered a very small agency specialized in rental, rue de La Boétie in Paris. The owner has shortened my journey of the fighter by trusting me immediately. There were several councilors who were struggling to get business. One of them, a prominent fifty-year-old called Jean Rey, a judicial expert in the courts, sympathized with me and offered me an association. He asked me if my father could lend me money; I replied that my father was a workman, that my mother was a housewife, and that she was raising my two brothers with me for a few months. I created my first company with Mr. Rey. He told me that he did not want to appear in the commercial register because he was going through a divorce. He said he wanted to prevent his wife from racking up her savings. It was him who put the necessary funds into the company. I finally had the opportunity to settle down.
-So, you find yourself for the first time on your account. In what year?
– It was a chance to be twenty-two years old in 1968. I had quickly captured that my culture was the art of business. Undertake, and give life to projects. I had empty pockets, but I was extremely motivated. This very first company finally represented the opportunity to take off. We registered it just after the demonstrations of May 1968.
-Instead of throwing cobblestones, you have propelled yourself into business with a partner of thirty years older than you? Is that right?
-That’s a question my father asked me. Not about the paving stones, but about my partner’s age. He did not understand that a mature man with such a pedigree would associate himself with a young man. I had several times seen my partner brandish his official blue-white-red striped card. Even the uniforms stood at my attention. I was convinced that everything was regular. Barely ten days after our opening, two guys appeared at the door of the agency. I opened. They asked to see Mr. Stevenin. I answered that I did not know this gentleman. They said « Mr Rey. » I accompanied them to his office, and there, just like in the TV series, they arrested Jean Rey before taking him away. They said, « You are summoned to the police station, Boulevard Gouvion St Cyr. You will ask Commissioner Petroti. » They added before leaving, « the problems will start for you. » I immediately called my father, who raised my spirits. Still, it really made a difference. 43 years later, I saw the scene again as if it had happened yesterday. I could even tell you about the two hours I spent at the station.
The Commissioner bombarded me with questions, but in a courteous manner. He understood very well that I had nothing to do with the case. When I said that Rey was a judicial expert, that I had seen his tricolor card, the Commissioner opened one of the suitcases he had seized. To my astonishment, it contained more than a hundred expert cards with different names. We were all sitting in the office around a desk. Rey slipped in. « I’ll give you my wife’s number, you’ll call her and she’ll understand. » I told him « you told me you were going to divorce ». That’s where he said, « No. I am still married but I have taken this discard to not appear on the register of commerce. I explained to the policemen that Jean Rey had put 16,000 Francs in the business account of the company, registered only in my name, of which there were only 2,000 to 3,000 francs, but which I was not able to repay. The commissioner told me to speak directly to Mr. Stevenin. The latter said, « You will pay back my wife when you can. Do not worry, hang on and you will succeed. » The Commissioner told me that I was rather lucky, because it has been about five years since the police tried to stop him. The name of the company, Jean Mark Immobilier, who used to look a bit like a hairdressing salon, seemed suspicious to them and put them on the track.
-A start in business rather incredible!
– We can say it. The next day, I stuck to work to forget this nightmare. For a few months, I gambled about what has happened to me. Either I was angry with Rey for leading me on a boat and hiding from me a truth that might have brought me a bundle of trouble if he had not been arrested. On the other hand, he had provided me with an opportunity, because I had found myself at the head of a business, with the imperative of successfully repaying the 16,000 francs to his wife. I worked hard for about 70 hours a week (we are far from the 35 hours) and about a year later, not only had I paid back what I had to, but I had also bought a small car, was offered a beautiful escape at Cannes, Carlton, in the company of my girlfriend at the time. Time had passed, during which I went up in the real estate business. I had no news of Stevenin aka Rey for three years. One day I received a letter from Health Prison from which he wrote to me « Dear Mark, I learned your brilliant expansion. Bravo. I am going to ask you for a favor: my son has just passed his license in law. I’d like you to take him on an internship. His son came in training and I had a lot of fun working with him. He was brilliant and gifted. When I talked to both of them, I understood that his father had set up a very big deal with a partner who hijacked a lot of money and had gone back to South America. The father had tried to recover his losses but was unable to, consequently was not able to discharge himself to all the people who had lent him. He must have borrowed from Paul, I suppose, to repay Pierre. It was this type of cavalry that had to make him fall. I did not hear from them afterwards.
-What a story ! But there you jump forward three years; What happened at the time you just created your first company and your partner was arrested? You didn’t have an instant success!
– When I think back, it happened rather quickly. I found myself alone on board, so I started this company purely self-taught. I had to get all the motivation and perseverance I was capable of, but success soon came. Shortly after the Jean Rey episode, I invested in a restaurant that I transformed and renamed Pizza Palma, Ledru Rollin Avenue in Paris 12th, which still exists. At the same time, I found an apartment renovation company, renamed ‘Rénovation du Vieux Paris.’ Then I started the turbocharger and chained the scores. This accelerated success caused difficulties in controlling my growth and I had to call on an active investor. I met an industrialist who sold his business and joined me. A few years later, without false modesty, I was one of the greatest in real estate in France. To my great regret, my partner was forced to go abroad for family reasons.
-But how did you come to this status, to quote you, of « real estate »?
-On a private scale, the word is not disproportionate. The volume I had reached on the Place de Paris began to attract the attention of the financial circles. The Banque Vernes and Commerciale de Paris took the initiative to approach me. It was concluded, and it entered the capital of my company (Cogerim). I then founded, with its participation, the SFII (Société Financière d’Investissements Immobiliers). I held the presidency, the bank held a minority stake and acted as a partner for the financing, which enabled me to substantially increase my portfolio and quickly establish my reputation. I was the only one at that time to own a group with a bank as a shareholder. Subsequently, I took shareholdings in other real estate companies to finally take control.
– And it went on like this uninterruptedly ?
-The year 1981 marked a decisive turning point. François Mitterrand had been elected President on the promise of a nationalization of the banks. The idea was to form a powerful public banking center. Banque Vernes was nationalized and bought back my shares. I resigned from my positions as an officer and director, and moved to the United States with an American woman I married.
– A new start ?
– I did not speak English at all, and at the age of 36 I entered the University of Miami. It took me a year to learn the language, and enroll myself in preparation for a real estate license and credit broker. After the completion of this training, I created my first property development company, the first realization of which involved the construction of 500 villas. I subsequently developed other real estate programs in Florida. At the time, it was a sleeping peninsula for retirees who suddenly metamorphosed into one of America’s leading economical and tourist centers. After my divorce, I went back to France and moved back to Paris. I came across a book that fascinated me: ‘Le Roi Vert’ by Paul-Loup Sulitzer. The flamboyant adventure of a man who, by the force of his will, surpasses all limits and builds an unimaginable fortune. I acknowledge that this reading influenced me and gave me a hell fishing. Back in the arena, I created real estate companies in association with the Private Investment Bank (BGP). After six years of good collaboration, the owners of the bank – billionaires Paul Desmarais and Albert Frère – sold the BGP to Crédit Agricole, following misunderstandings with Gérard Eskenazi, who headed their holding in Switzerland Pargesa, and its subsidiary Parfinance. This resulted in my resignation from my leadership positions and the transfer of my shares.
– Which date? » I have a hard time keeping up with …
– In 1993, to be precise. The time had come for me to take a step back on business. I took a few sabbatical years, gave myself a little introspection … In 2001, my association with the actor of cinema Christophe Lambert and the former advertising Michel Halimi, gave rise to the constitution of the C2M Group Ii Belgium, with subsidiaries in France and Luxembourg. In the first year of its existence, this group bought more than 100,000 m2 of investment properties. My two partners and I completed a long series of acquisitions for four years. In 2005, we were unable to resist an offer to buy back the assets by Morgan Stanley; for my part, settled in Brussels, I decided to redevelop my business on a European scale.
–After the sale to Morgan Stanley, you stopped real estate?
– Not at all. Far from it. I am still active in promotion and investment. I placed at the head of my European societies leaders from big schools, serving me the role of the conductor. I am very adept of the ecology and feel in perfect agreement with the orientations of the Grenelle Environment. My group specializes in the construction of modern high-end villas that meet all environmental standards. I was just about to deliver a tourist complex around one of the most beautiful golf courses in France. The project included the construction of 70,000 m2 of ecological villas, a hotel, and a leisure center. This program was perfect for promoting tourism and creating jobs. I have sold my companies in various activities to concentrate solely on the construction of ecological villas around golf courses, apart from my participation in the movie industry where I start a new activity. I will continue to develop my real estate promotions in Europe but outside of France.
– Why outside of France?
– Because today, French banks – even when approaching with experience and guarantees will no longer lend to companies. Moreover, they no longer lend themselves to one another. They prefer to take the money that the monetary authorities flood (at an extra light rate of 1%, see zero for short-term interest rates) in order to speculate in markets rather than fulfill their obligation to finance the ‘’real economy.’’ Yet this should be the only valid reason for which the ECB is injecting liquidity in the hundreds of billions, inflating the debt that the taxpayers inherit. About the golf complex we just mentioned, the removal of the Scellier-Bouvard device forced me to cancel my reservations. This is a typical example of a counterproductive measure for the economy, which will put the promoters and their subcontractors in difficulty: construction companies, architects, service providers, etc. I questioned several banks that refused to accompany me in the development of the program by providing me with incredible pretexts, since the real guarantee was five times greater than the amount of the loan requested. I finally discovered “the secret” by the indiscretion of an employee: owning a real estate subsidiary, the bank did not want to finance a competitor! Times have changed a lot since, for example, the Entenial Bank – a subsidiary of Crédit Foncier – had granted me a mortgage credit of 65 million euros in 2005. We will mention in a moment, if you wish, the only remedy likely to save the banks from their own logic of destruction.
– And abroad, on the other hand, do you think it’s better?
– This is not an estimate. This is lived experience. To illustrate with an example: I am waiting for building permits for the realization of a large-scale real estate program, always in the ecological field, while being ultra high-end on a good part of the site.
The program will reach more than one million three hundred thousand square meters on two thousand hectares of land, on a stunning coastline, with a golf course of twenty seven holes overlooking the sea, among the most beautiful courses in the world. If I approached French bankers for a start-up loan of up to 300 million euros, more than largely secured by a first mortgage, I would risk a complaint for bankruptcy, or I would be embarked for Psychiatric emergencies by the ambulance. I did not want to run the risk. A bank in Hong Kong and a Qatar investment fund have very favorably welcomed the issue and even want to take a minority stake in my development company.
-You have a sharp tongue for the French model !
– No. Financing the concrete and tangible economy, creating real wealth. Real estate is the typical example. It is based on the main need of humanity after the one of eating. The need to have a roof to house his family and premises to work. Apart from some very exceptional examples where one gains a few km2 on the coasts, the land represents a finished measure. The land will not increase in volume as its population grows or new business needs. Real estate can be compared to a mining raw material. Its quantity is « finite » in the geological bark whereas the needs of its use are increasing with the demography. If complex financial products can climb to the moon or fall to zero, it does not happen with real estate. I do not want to turn around and bite the hand that fed me, as I owe my ascent to the French banks. But since then, privileging madly risky operations on speculative markets to the detriment of the objective creation of added value has shaken the order of priorities. I just suggest putting the compass back in the right direction.
– But when a French bank refuses, you can always go to the opposite bank, right?
– Competition can not be used: the banking system in France is controlled mainly by five major ‘universal’ banks and their subsidiaries and sub-subsidiaries; There remain a few banks belonging to families, which deal exclusively with wealth management. It must also be noted that banks do all the jobs except the one that is their responsibility: to lend money. They are found in all sectors of activity, such as real estate developer, merchant of goods, telephone company, travel agency. It would be urgent and necessary to introduce in the Monetary and Financial Code on the one hand, The obligation of an effective exercise by the banks of the basic trade from which they are exempt, namely the conversion of savings exclusively into loans for the economy, and the strict prohibition to carry on other trades, have nothing to do with this prerogative of which they enjoy the monopoly. Otherwise, banks will continue to threaten the balance of the system by their behavior, while undermining the development of enterprises. The Code should enact that banks are restricted to a stake less than the blocking minority in exogenous companies at their core business. Therefore, a shareholder bank cannot interfere in the management of these companies, nor can it use a capital increase to dilute its partner