Jonny Friedman makes an awkward attempt to pose for a photograph on the bustling streets of Durban. Relatively unknown in SA business circles, the 50-year-old London property entrepreneur is dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. Friedman, who has ploughed hundreds of millions of rand into buying city blocks in Durban, appears to have avoided the limelight throughout his career. He isn’t nearly as funky as the hipsters jostling past him. Friedman says his Urban Lime group, founded in the UK in the early 1990s, has spent about R1bn in SA in the past two years. The investments, in Cape Town and Durban, include iconic buildings such as Durban’s 320 Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street) and the "upper Bree quarter" on Cape Town’s Bree Street. He buys buildings grouped together because scale is critical to his enterprise. Urban Lime has gathered a portfolio of about 90 buildings in the two cities and London — 75 of them in SA. Collectively they are worth R3bn. Friedman’s family trust is t...

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