Sol Kerzner, considered to be the king of resort style casinos in South Africa, has sold his interests in the group that he created two decades ago after leaving his homeland for London. The 78 year old announced that he would be selling his interests in Kerzner International Holdings to the Dubai based Investment Corporation. However, the unstoppable Kerzner, who has created some of the biggest brands in the leisure and gambling world, has said he will not be retiring from the industry.
Kerzner has been likened to South Africa’s answer to Donald Trump and has proven himself by turning his visions into reality time and time again. In 1964, at the age of 29, Kerzner was given the opportunity to develop the Beverley Hill Hotel in Durban. Despite pessimistic forecasts that investing in the hotel would lead to nothing, Kerzner proved them wrong. While the hotel was being developed, Kerzner took his first trip overseas and travelled up and down the Miami strip, visiting each hotel until he had an idea of how the Beverly Hills should be operated. The hotel went on to become South Africa’s first 5-star hotel.
Kerzner has not been without controversy in his life, and has been accused of bribing Bantustan leaders in return for exclusive casino licenses. Kerzner says that he met the president of Bophuthatswana in the 1980s and presented him with the concept of Sun City, including hotels, a lake and a golf course. According to the tycoon, President Lucas Mangope was “blown over” by the idea, and by the initial R35 million investment that was being discussed, and therefore granted Kerzner and his company the exclusive casino concession. To this day, Sun City is considered an iconic South African leisure destination.
Leaving South Africa for London wasn’t an easy move for Kerzner, who found it difficult to get established due to the anti-apartheid movement. However he succeeded in a grand way, eventually getting knighted by the Queen and becoming the first non-American to be inducted into the US Gaming Hall of Fame. His vision is responsible for Dubai’s Atlantis hotel, as well as the One&Only brand of international hotels.
Speaking about the sale of Kerzner International Holdings, the businessman said: “It’s the end of one chapter. I’m a little older now and you can’t think one would achieve what I’ve done over the last 50 years, but I’m not ready to retire.”