Ceo Welcome Message by Joanne Solomon

The new year is upon us, and for most people and businesses, it represents an opportunity to push the reset button and start anew. However, like all things in life, one cannot look to the future without reflecting on the past.

2021 offers many lessons but, on the whole, will be remembered as a year of resilience and undying fortitude. It began with much uncertainty and trepidation, given the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but ended in renewal and optimism.

As the year progressed and we found our footing, people and businesses began to navigate the new ways of living and doing business. For SAREIT, it was encouraging to see the sector’s commitment to improving the business environment, contributing to the betterment of South Africa’s economic situation. Between April 2020 and June 2021, REITs issued a total of R3.5 billion in rental discounts and deferrals to enable business sustainability during the pandemic. Therefore, these collective efforts reassure me that 2022 will be the long-awaited year of rebuilding and recovery.

During 2021, we experienced some significant shifts within the sector. Most of our members and the majority of the industry continued to focus on debt reduction and portfolio optimisation. The emphasis on optimising operations resulted in tenant retention and, for some, improved leasing activity. I am pleased that the efforts from all industry players have led to significant progress, reminding us of the sector’s income-yielding characteristic, which makes the property industry attractive. This positivity will aid the sector in reclaiming its position as a top-performing asset class.

With the peak of the fourth wave now passed and South Africa’s vaccination programme in full swing, we are excited to be hosting the much anticipated SA REIT Conference 2022, sponsored by Nedbank CIB. Set to take place on 3 February 2022, the specifically designed programme will highlight diverging views from the sector’s most influential players. Some of the high-profile
keynote speakers include Bart Gysens, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley London; Gina Schoeman, Managing Director at Citibank; Paul O’Flaherty, Executive Director for EY-Parthenon; Paul Badrick, Partner and Head of Public Practice at BDO South Africa; Dominique Moerenhout, Chief Executive Officer at European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) and John Worth, Executive Vice President: Research and Investor Outreach at Nareit.

The conference will also afford us the opportunity to discuss critical issues affecting the sector. Key amongst them being: The Path to the Next Normal, Investing in SA REITs, SA Business Environment, ESG, SA REITs – An Extraordinary Journey, Transpiring Global Trends in REITs and Growth in Alternative Sectors. These robust discussions will be conducted by leaders from REITs, affiliate associations and industry bodies, asset and fund management, financial services, energy and ICT, government advisory and management consulting sectors. The diverse pool of panellists will provide an unmatched authentic and critical debate that will encourage us to challenge our current way of doing business and devise innovative ways to take our sector to the next level. To register and view the full programme, click here: https://bit.ly/3Bz80yp or follow us on Twitter @SA_REIT or LinkedIn SA REIT Association for regular updates on the conference.

Regardless of what lies ahead, I am confident that we are better equipped to navigate the year ahead.

Happy 2022 and the very best wishes to you, your loved ones and your businesses.

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