BRENT JOHNSON: Hi, I'm Brent Johnson, and this is Real Visionaries.
Whenever I get to speak to somebody about something that they are passionate about, whether I know anything about it at all, or whether I'm passionate about it or not, it doesn't really matter. If they're passionate about it, I'll sit there and listen to them for a long time, because I just think the opportunity to grow, learn something new. And perhaps think about something you'd never thought about is it comes about when you have those kinds of conversations.
The first guest I'm going to speak with is a guy named Alberto Baco. I happened to meet Alberto in June of 2021, when I was sitting in a hotel lobby with a friend of mine having a cup of coffee, and he was speaking to this gentleman. The more I spoke with him, and the more we talked to him, the more I realized this guy's really smart. It turns out that Alberto is The Godfather/Architect of the Act 2021, which is now Act 60 Program, that is an incentive program to bring people outside of Puerto Rico to Puerto Rico, to bring their businesses to Puerto Rico.
He set this up as a way to draw capital to Puerto Rico. And in a way he's responsible for me ultimately being here. I found Puerto Rico to be a fantastic place to live, to do business, and to have my family. We've embraced it wholeheartedly and have been more than pleasantly surprised. Alberto has become a friend.
I've called on him several times, and he's called in me. It's really interesting to have the pleasure of knowing somebody who knows Puerto Rico so well, and to have him show you around, talk to you about the opportunities. Talk to you about some of the challenges that need to be overcome. But overall, just what the whole program is about and why he had the vision for this and why that vision is now coming true.
ALBERTO BACO: It's a misconception that this is something to pay zero taxes. It's not to create economic activity, because we are already seeing a new industries that we have never thought we could have in Puerto Rico. At the end of the day, they are creating opportunities for the local people.
And more important, a lot of people feel that the diaspora that people have left Puerto Rico, we have more than 5 million Puerto Ricans in the States, and only 3 million in Puerto Rico, that was damaging our economy. Now we have an instrument to tell all these successful, young people that left Puerto Rico to go to the best universities to come back and have opportunities.
BRENT JOHNSON: Next, I'm going to be speaking with Sebastian Brunemeier. Believe it or not, I met Sebastian walking down the street in San Juan. We got to speaking, and the stuff he was talking about was like super interesting. We ended up getting a coffee together. To be honest, the conversation really kind of blew my mind. I'll be very honest, this is a conversation where I'm not going to add much value, I'm just going to ask him questions and let him talk because he's working in an area that I think all of us, perhaps to a certain extent, find a little fascinating, and that is longevity.
In other words, the attempt to extend one's life and in some ways, live forever, so to speak. I think one of the most interesting things that came out of my conversation with him for me, was whenever I've had these conversations with people, it's kind of this pie in the sky idea or this theory and something that people perhaps always dreamed about, but Sebastian believes it's a reality. His point to me was it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
The second thing that I thought was really interesting with Sebastian was he started off as an academic, as a researcher, but then he transitioned into the world of business. I think that that's always interesting when that happens, as well.
SEBASTIAN BRUNEMEIER: I helped build a biotech company in Oxford called Samsara Therapeutics, which is working on autophagy. So this is this cellular repair process. There's a Nobel Prize awarded in 2016 for autophagy. Basically, when you do fasting, or exercise, or you take certain drugs that extend healthy lifespan, autophagy is in play. Autophagy is Greek for self-eating. So the cell breaks down its internal components, its organelles, and then rebuilds them.
Genetically, enhancing autophagy is sufficient to extend healthy lifespan in [?] about 15% and they don't get fat if you overfeed them and they're resistant to a lot of different age related models of disease including neurodegenerative disease.
BRENT JOHNSON: Maciej Wojtal is another visionary that I had the pleasure of having the opportunity to speak with. I was introduced to him by Raoul. Raoul has spoken to him in the past. And it meshes with a thesis that Raoul has had for several years, and that I came to know about, called a handful of years ago. It's one of my favorite narratives, because I think it's one that's going to come true.
In my opinion, this is another thing that's just a matter of time. It's not an S, it's a win. But that's the big variable is when does this happen. What I'm talking about is Iran. Maciej has a fund, for lack of a better word, an investment vehicle, and he's been investing in the country for several years now and sees tremendous opportunities going forward. Iran, for me has always been a country that's kind of as exotic off in a far distant place, kind of mysterious.
They've always acknowledged some of the issues and the problems that go on there. They are also very hopeful for the future. I think that that's what's interesting about what Maciej is doing, because it does provide a vision of the future or in the hope of a better world, so to speak, and the opportunity to access a market that for many in the West has always been closed.
One of the things I always talk about when it comes to emerging markets is that there's obviously going to be risks involved. If there was no risk involved, there would be no opportunity. The fact that risks do exist, and the fact that challenges do exist, is what makes the opportunity. If you can overcome those challenges, it's so great.
MACIEJ WOJTAL: We see the market based on, let's say, some estimates for 100 top companies on the market. The median forward price to earnings ratio is around 4.5, I think 4.6 last time we checked. The expected median dividend yield would be around 13%. All of the companies that we have in our portfolio are between three and five times forward earnings. The expensive ones let's say, healthcare, which has historically, obviously, not only in Iran but everywhere, has been at higher valuations. It's trading at six times forward earnings, let's say. Russia right now even lower because of some additional reasons, domestic reasons. So this is the type of difference to the rest of the world.
BRENT JOHNSON: It's been a real pleasure for me to be able to host this Real Visionaries Series. I hope that everybody has found these conversations as interesting and stimulating as I have. I certainly don't expect everybody to agree with everything they've heard. And more than likely, they disagree with some of the things they've heard. But hopefully they found some of that useful, some of it interesting and maybe some opportunities in there for further development.
I think whenever you keep an open mind, and whenever you talk to people who have either had success or had challenges and made it through them, it's always an opportunity for you to tag along with a little bit of their wisdom and use some of the scar tissue that they've built up to your advantage. I hope everybody enjoyed it and look forward to do it again in the future.