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September 29, 2008
 
       
 

RECESSION-PROOF BROKER NICHE?


 

Is there really such a thing these days? The new head of NAI Global New York City's new International Advisory Group thinks he comes close: Gil Robinov tells us that despite the mess on Wall Street, foreign governments and international clients still inevitably need space in Manhattan. He ought to know; he's represented over 25% of U.N. member governments in his career.

 

Before joining NAI in June, Gil handled internationally-leased properties near the U.N. Headquarters for Murray Hill Properties. He discovered that many brokers were impatient with international clients, and that some clients, not understanding terminology or abrupt American mannerisms, needed help throughout the process. He approached NAI Global, which already had an international platform, and formed the "hand holding" brokerage and advisory group with former Murray Hill colleagues Shigeru Matsui, Philip Silverstein and Robert Marcus.  Now, the group works with all of the members in the U.N., as well as internationally-based investors and companies settled here and looking to place their money. The clients' stronger currencies and relative insulation from New York's recent financial woes practically make this group recession-proof, he says.

 

Germany, Asia, Ireland, the Middle East and Australia continue to show the strongest interest in New York City's commercial real estate market, Gils says, but the advisory group will primarily target clients in Japan, Turkey and Israel at first. And language will certainly be no barrier: Matsui and Silverstein speak fluent Japanese, and associate Damla Yerdelenli, who only joined NAI just a week ago, is on hand to translate Turkish. Robinov said it is also important to spend time with ambassadors, who like to know you're interested in and knowledgeable about their country—merely mention their homeland and you're bestowed with gifts of travel brochures and visitor information. Robinov once had lunch with an Omani client and his family in New York, and was invited to the daughter's wedding in Oman. The globetrotter is off to Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary next, but this time, it's for a well-deserved vacation.

 

The U.N. General Assembly was in town, as you noticed, which gave the advisory group ample opportunity to speak with potential clients. We bet they were happy to be in the comfort of NAI's Madison Avenue office and not in a taxi—this was the UN-caused gridlock outside the Helmsley Building, only a few blocks away. We're sure plenty of cabbies were more than happy to earn the 40-cent per minute standstill charge.

 
 
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