Earlier this week, Tim Newman at White Sun of the Desert discussed a BBC report from Canada that looked at, among other things, Toronto’s Trump Tower from the usual angle of Trump being bad, toxic and in trouble. One thing that is clear is that Trump cannot be in much trouble over that particular project since he is not a shareholder, only providing his name and management services to the owners, so the downside to him is rather limited. “Real estate licensing” is one of the Trump family’s relatively safe lines of business. As Tim notes,

…the upshot of this entire article is that a building which Trump has no ownership stake in is the subject of a lawsuit in provincial Canada…

So who took the risk of building that Toronto tower, which broke ground in 2007 – on the brink of the great 2008 meltdown – and was completed in 2012, in a completely different world as far as real estate is concerned?

The principal shareholder of Talon International is Alex Shnaider. Born in St. Petersburg in 1968 and taken by his parents to Israel at four and to Canada at 13, Shnaider amassed a fortune of around $1.5 billion within less than 15 years starting from 1991. The Globe and Mail article linked above, as well as this Forbes piece, leave no doubt that the man made his money in the manner of a post-Soviet oligarch, which, considering his Soviet roots and Russian accent, makes him for all practical purposes a post-Soviet oligarch, albeit with a Canadian passport and degree.

Earning good returns on real estate in the West, however, can be trickier than sharing spoils with red directors:

“He’s really come out of nowhere,” says another friend, who asked not to be identified. “He’s very shrewd, obviously had very good connections, and he’s done a huge amount of wheeling and dealing. But I have to wonder whether he isn’t getting a little too big. We’ve seen what happens to other Soviet entrepreneurs who overreach.”

We’ll see what happens to this particular post-Soviet one.

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