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opportunity zones

Former Trump Aide Anthony Scaramucci Talks About Real Estate, Politics and Opportunity Zones

If you have been following the Trump presidency as much as, well, everyone else in the world, you have probably heard the name Anthony Scaramucci. He spent a short ten-day term as the White House Director of Communications last year. He has become a household name, he goes by “The Mooch” for his often flamboyant outburst on the political pundit scene and in his many media appearances such as The Celebrity Apprentice.

But there is actually much more to Anthony than most of us would like to admit. He founded Oscar Capital Management in 1996 after a stint with Goldman which he ended up selling to Neuberger Berman in 2001. He is a Harvard Law graduate and is one of the organizers of the SALT conference, that starts tomorrow, which is focused on emerging trends in sectors like finance, economics and public policy. Lest you think this yet another small time conference, speakers include Nikki Haley, General John Kelly, Secretary Ben Carson, Ben Horowitz and Mark Cuban.

The wide political spectrum of the people on stage actually provides a bit of insight into how Anthony thinks. “I would never let politics get in the way of a business relationship,” he told me recently. He is also over thirty episodes into a podcast that he puts on with his wife Diedre called, wait for it, The Mooch and the Mrs. “She is a liberal and I love her. I don’t let those things get in the way of my relationships,” he said. In fact, when I asked him if he ever considered a bid for the Presidency himself he told me that he would rather be married than be president and that the two were most likely mutually exclusive.

Now he has become the figurehead of SkyBridge Capital, an investment fund focused on Opportunity Zones. “We think we can raise $3 billion over 3 years.” Opportunity zones, as many of you know, were created as a way to increase investment in traditionally downtrodden neighborhoods by reducing or eliminating the capital gains taxes on investments. At time I talked to him the rules had not been handed out as to the specifics of when the tax deferral period would start. “We are waiting for the regs to come out,” he said.

Since our chat the regs have come out, giving a little more concrete guidance on how they would be determining the eligibility of an investment. I reached back out and was put in touch with Brett Messing, President and Chief Operating Officer at SkyBridge Capital. He told me, “We view the recent release of regulations by the IRS as favorable for both investors as well as for our REIT structure and investment mandate. We expect to close our first deal this month.”

When I asked about his firm’s investment strategy he told me, “We expect to have overweight exposures to property types that in our opinion are experiencing positive secular trends, such as multifamily and industrial, though we will invest across sectors (including hospitality, mixed use, multi-family, office, etc.) with the goal of delivering diversification by geography and by property type to our investors.”

One of the interesting things about Opportunity Zones is that they are both a good tax strategy and a socially conscious investment. When I asked which one of these was more important to investors Brett said, “The early movers are predominately US-taxable investors who have already realized gains and are looking to take advantage of the tax incentives, though as the program continues to gain momentum and matures we expect increased participation from non-taxable investors focused on making socially conscious investments.” I guess in the end the real estate investment market is more pragmatic than aspirational. Maybe that is why Anthony, who is anything if not pragmatic.

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