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Growthpoint Properties Unveils New Name for Co-investment, Co-management Business     

Growthpoint Properties (JSE: GRT) announced its ‘funds management business’ will be formally named Growthpoint Investment Partners. The name reflects its strategy one of Growthpoint’s four strategic thrusts to co-invest and co-manage specialist alternative real estate investment portfolios where Growthpoint is both a capital partner and management partner.

Growthpoint began the groundwork for Growthpoint Investment Partners in 2014, when it identified internationalisation, local portfolio optimisation, trading and development, and co-investment as its core strategies. Before this, Growthpoint had favoured sole-ownership investments in SA almost exclusively, and in response it created a new platform to deliver its co-investment, co-management strategy. It is this platform, previously labelled the “funds management business”, that has been rebranded Growthpoint Investment Partners, and will continue to further diversify Growthpoint’s assets by harnessing new opportunities through co-investment in order to create sustainable value for Growthpoint’s stakeholders and investment partners.

Its new tactic as an investment partner – leveraging the management skills that have grown Growthpoint into a leading international property company – has proven a defensive growth strategy in the low-growth capital-constrained South African market, and led to a co-investment approach that has quickly gained traction.

From a zero-base in 2018, Growthpoint Investment Partners has already topped its target R15bn of assets under management by 2023. Now, it is aiming to double this in the next five years.

The growth of Growthpoint Investment Partners is adding meaningful depth to the real estate market by creating access to alternative opportunities in the unlisted and co-invested environment for the broader investment community, its investment partners as well as Growthpoint.

Norbert Sasse, Growthpoint Group CEO, says the renaming of this Growthpoint business is a significant milestone. “The time has come to create a formal identity for this robust partnership platform. Growthpoint Investment Partners has gained strong momentum and is successfully attracting co-investment capital. It delivers one of our core strategies, but has a distinctive investment model different from Growthpoint Properties’, and we wanted to reflect this in its new name.

Growthpoint Investment Partners’ investment model starts with Growthpoint backing each investment with an anchor stake of around 20%. Co-investors then contribute up to 80% of the capital to the opportunity. Each investment has gearing of approximately 40%. The ability to scale each opportunity is a key consideration. So too is differentiating the assets from Growthpoint’s core SA portfolio in the office, retail and industrial property sectors.

Since 2018 it has launched three unlisted investments in specialist alternative real estate asset classes: African (ex. SA) income-producing commercial real estate, SA healthcare property, and SA student accommodation. Growthpoint is a cornerstone investor in these investments and plays a management role. Each has introduced new co-investment opportunities that leverage Growthpoint’s management and capital strengths. All have related positive long-term socio-economic impacts and enjoy access to Growthpoint’s excellent governance oversight frameworks, and extensive dedicated environmental, corporate social investment and sustainability resources.

Through Growthpoint, the Growthpoint Investment Partners platform affords its investments REIT status. However, the unlisted investments provide exposure to direct real estate that tends to be driven by long-term fundamentals rather than listed real estate volatility driven by short-term sentiment.

“The growth and scale of Growthpoint Investment Partners to date has established it as a leading investment partner in alternative real estate markets. Its new name not only reflects its significance for Growthpoint and its success in unlocking new real estate co-investment opportunities with its investment partners, but also its positive impacts and exciting prospects for considerable future growth,” says Sasse.

GROWTHPOINT INVESTMENT PARTNERS’ ALTERNATIVE REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS:

  • Growthpoint Healthcare REIT launched in 2018 as SA’s first unlisted REIT focused exclusively on healthcare property investment. Its assets have grown to R3.4bn. It has raised over R1.3bn of co-investor funding, with investment partners including the IFC, Kagiso Capital, Sentinel Pension Fund, and Vulindlela Holdings. The calibre of its investors is an endorsement of its robust ESG credentials. Growthpoint has a 55.9% share in Growthpoint Healthcare REIT, which invests exclusively in healthcare property assets in SA with a mandate to acquire and develop acute, day and specialist hospitals, as well as laboratories and biotechnology manufacturing and warehousing facilities. It has a R5bn pipeline of acquisitions and developments. The aim is to scale Growthpoint Healthcare REIT to some R10bn in assets for a stock exchange listing.
  • Growthpoint Student Accommodation REIT launched in December 2021 to become SA’s first unlisted purpose-built student accommodation REIT. It has a R2bn portfolio of seven assets with 4,979 beds, which has a two-year rental underpin to mitigate against short-term impacts of Covid-19 and an immediate three-development growth pipeline. Its first close attracted partner capital commitments of R1.1bn, and around R1.4bn in equity including Growthpoint’s co-investment of R240m representing 16% cornerstone investment and co-investor Feenstra Group’s 11%. It has attracted significant commitments from preeminent investment holding companies. By investing in and developing new accommodation specifically for university students, Growthpoint Student Accommodation REIT helps to improve education outcomes and create economic opportunities, making it an impact investment. It will grow towards R12bn in assets and a stock exchange listing within seven years.

Lango Real Estate (formerly Growthpoint Investec African Properties) commenced in 2018. Lango’s assets have since grown to USD601m. It has raised over USD320m in partner funding from notable South African and international institutional investors and has emerged as a leader in the African real estate market. Growthpoint has a 16% shareholding in Lango, with a co-investment of USD50m. Lango which invests in prime commercial real estate assets in key gateway cities across the African continent. It has 11 income-generating commercial properties in Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and land holdings in Anglo. It strives to act as a catalyst for impact across the continent. Lango is currently in a capital raising period, which it intends to use mainly to acquire a pipeline of assets, particularly in Nairobi, Kenya. It is positioned for a stock exchange listing in the medium term.

Emira leads the way for Energy Performance Certification in South Africa

  • Emira is the first SA REIT to receive an EPCfor Knightsbridge Block A office building
  • The GBCSA has confirmed Net-Zero accreditation for Knightsbridge Block A
  • The building’s new 580 PV panel solar farm was commissioned last month (February 2022)

Emira Property Fund has become the first JSE-listed property company in South Africa to receive a government-mandated Energy Performance Certification for one of its buildings – Knightsbridge, Block A, in the heart of Bryanston. Knightsbridge is the first of 54 certificates Emira plans to obtain for the mandated commercial buildings in the Emira portfolio.

From 7 December this year, all publicly- and privately-owned offices, schools, universities, places of public assembly and indoor sport and theatres above a specific size must have and display Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). Emira partnered with experts in the field, RMS (Remote Metering Solutions), to meet the new regulatory obligations and progress its environmental sustainability goals.

“Emira has acted early to certify its buildings. Ensuring compliance with this new regulation is in line with our good governance. We are voluntarily certifying non-mandated buildings in addition to those that require certification, which is consistent with our commitment to best practices, carbon reduction and the environment,” says Ulana van Biljon, COO of Emira Property Fund.

It is fitting that Emira chose Knightsbridge Block A to debut SA’s first EPC as it was, just this month (March 2022), certified by the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) as one of the first Net-Zero Energy buildings in SA. It has received a Net Zero – Carbon Level 2: Occupant Emissions (modelled) certification, demonstrating its annual net-zero energy consumption.

A prime multitenant office property and Emira’s head office location, Knightsbridge brings to life Emira’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices, which is evident throughout its portfolio. It is a showcase of resource efficiency, biodiversity and positive ecological impact.

Its new multi-level solar farm plays a pivotal role in its energy-neutral operations. The Knightsbridge renewable solar energy project – Emira’s tenth so far – commenced in October 2021 starting with two months of design planning to support both a net-zero rating and cost-benefit feasibility. Work got underway in December 2021 and the system was commissioned at the end of February 2022.

This particular building, a relatively new development, was always designed to incorporate a PV farm and achieve net-zero status. Its consumption patterns show it is ideal for a PV installation, and it can accommodate a combination of roof-top and ground-mount structures so the solar farm can achieve the desired energy yield. In fact, its total energy yield is higher than the building’s on-record consumption, taking into account the capacity limits and other impacts of Covid-19.

Emira’s Knightsbridge PV project at a glance:

  • 580 PV panels
  • 132 roof-top panels
  • 448 ground-mount panels
  • First-year guaranteed energy yield of 369.9 MWh
  • Equivalent to removing around 40 medium-sized homes from the power grid.

For Knightsbridge’s tenants, this means operating in a much greener environment and those tenants who report on any sustainability indices are able to confirm that their building has achieved independently verified net-zero energy status ahead of the targets set in the Paris Agreement. It makes Knightsbridge an attractive address for large corporates, almost all of which now consider greening initiatives when selecting their office space.

Van Biljon reports that the offices at Knightsbridge are currently fully let. “Our energy and other environmental initiatives, from biodiversity to water saving, support the letting of future phases of Knightsbridge and prolong its ongoing attractiveness and performance for tenants.”

Importantly, Emira’s solar farms position it to take advantage of future power regulations, including    feeding power back into the grid.

In the six months July 2021 to December 2021, Emira’s nine PV farms saved 4.8 million kWh and removed 4 639tCO2e emissions annually. Now, with the Knightsbridge installation and the further expansion of its Pretoria Wonderpark Shopping Centre system of 1.6MWp (DC) to 2.8 MWp (DC), its positive environmental impacts will be even more significant.

Geoff Jennett, CEO of Emira, says, “Emira’s purpose of being great in providing great real estate includes minimising our impact on the natural environment. We do this by managing our carbon footprint, improving affordable and clean energy, implementing integrated waste and recycling plans, water management and water harvesting projects and safeguarding biodiversity wherever we invest.”

Emira was one of only 80 global companies, and the only one in Africa, selected to work with SBTi to develop the Global Net-Zero Standard to align the Paris 1.5 degrees Celsius Carbon Reduction Target.

“Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations are at the heart of our businesses and entrenched in our leadership and performance. As a responsible landlord, we have various targets and initiatives to enact Emira’s ESG commitments, which we will continue to expand,” says Jennett.

Hyprop Successfully Acquires the Remaining Properties in The Hystead Portfolio

Thursday, 31 March 2022. Hyprop Investments Limited (Hyprop) is pleased to announce that it has increased its shareholding from 78% to 100% in Hystead’s four premium shopping centres in Eastern Europe, namely Skopje City Mall in North-Macedonia; City Center one East and City Center one West in Croatia; and The Mall in Bulgaria.

As a result of this transaction, Hyprop’s Eastern European exposure has increased to 32% of the Group’s total investment property. This is in line with the company’s diversification strategy to increase its exposure to Eastern Europe, diluting the company’s exposure to the weaker South African economy. In addition, the transaction simplifies the group structure and normalises the accounting treatment of the investment in Hystead.

”We have fulfilled all the conditions of the Hystead transaction, including shareholders’ approval at the General Meeting held on Friday, 25 March 2022. At the meeting, 79.7% of the issued shares were voted, of which 99.9% voted in favour of the transaction,” Morné Wilken, CEO of Hyprop, commented.

The Eastern Europe portfolio fits Hyprop’s strategy of holding dominant retail centres in their respective catchment areas. The focus remains the retention of these centres’ dominance through active asset management, strategic redevelopments and refinancing or settling the Euro equity debt. The experienced in-country asset management and property management teams will join Hyprop, which ensures that we retain continuity and in-country know-how.

Hyprop remains focused on creating safe environments and opportunities for people to connect and have authentic and meaningful experiences, thereby creating long-term sustainable value for all stakeholders.

“The key priorities for the next six months will be implementing the disposal of Delta City Podgorica; continuing to strengthen our balance sheet; annual reviews of our portfolio to ensure we retain assets that fit our strategy; continued repositioning of our portfolio; and implementing ESG initiatives,” Wilken concluded.

Attacq’s Valued Based Strategy Delivers Solid Interim Results

Tuesday, 22 March 2022. Attacq Limited (“Attacq”), the JSE-listed REIT known for the success of its Waterfall City precinct, today announced its interim results for the six months ended 31 December 2021. Reflecting the company’s strong financial position, this solid outlook highlights the benefit of Attacq’s strategic focus on developing premium precincts and engaging experiential retail destinations.

The group delivered a 34.1% increase in distributable income per share of 28.2 cents, excluding profit earned from the sale of residential units of 9.35 cents. The growth was mainly driven by the dividend received from its investment in MAS of R46.1 million, proving the decision to hold the remaining 6.5% prudent as it delivered capital growth and dividend income for the reporting period.

As part of Attacq’s strategy to reduce debt and strengthen the balance sheet, the group successfully managed to lower its gearing from 46.3% at 31 December 2020 to 38%. The improvement in gearing is attributable to the total interest-bearing borrowings decline of 15.4% to R8.6 billion, compared to R10.2 billion during the comparative period. Additionally, the group maintained a strong liquidity position of R1.8 billion as proceeds from disposals executed during the period under review were deployed to pay down and reduce debt.

CEO of Attacq, Jackie van Niekerk says, “Attacq has remained focused on delivering on the financial and operational strategy we embedded last year, and we are extremely gratified to see this flow through in company performance. Our results are also a testament to the team’s proactive and agile approach in meeting market challenges and adapting our strategic response accordingly. Their ability not just to embrace change, but to optimise for it, has been key to business sustainability. In terms of the operating environment, we are cautiously optimistic that recent green shoots are heralding a start to economic recovery, an encouraging sign for us and our stakeholders.”

Attacq’s focus on creating smart, safe and sustainable community spaces that provide unforgettable experiences in its precincts is a key differentiator. This was evidenced by the group’s retail-experience hubs performing relatively well, reporting a 96.2% occupancy rate. In addition, year-on-year weighted average trading density grew by 8.7%, with the award-winning Mall of Africa increasing by 14.9%, Garden Route Mall increasing by 10.0% and Lynnwood Bridge – Retail increasing by 9.0%. All assets indicate the increased level of sales as the group wades through to return to 2019 levels.

Collaboration hubs – focusing on space optimisation, convenience and space-as-a-service – are a concept that was in the making pre Covid-19. However, the global pandemic accelerated their relevance as clients sought flexible solutions to both space requirements and leases. This innovation saw Attacq improve office utilisation rates towards the end of the previous calendar year, especially as businesses started implementing return-to-work policies and hybrid working models.

Attacq recently announced its partnership with IWG (Regus and SPACES in South Africa), to collectively expand their service offerings in an increasingly agile property industry, responding to the varying office needs and the emerging ‘Hybrid’ shift. Starting with Lynnwood Bridge Precinct and then the Waterfall City precinct, Attacq is broadening its footprint, offering flex-space options which will be managed by IWG.

The group’s logistics hubs continue to demonstrate their value in the current, dynamic environment, reporting 100% occupancy during the six months ended 31 December 2021. Offering clients a secure urban and fully integrated office and warehouse space with all amenities under one roof underpins Attacq management’s capabilities to embrace business disruptions, identify value-creating opportunities and optimise accordingly.

“Trends such as online shopping, work-from-home and hybrid working models have really pushed us as a team to think differently about how we interact within the real estate sector, particularly in our developments and how we service clients in these safe, connected spaces. Our diversified client base and extensive portfolio of different asset classes in multiple geographies, as well as our streamlined approach to asset, property and development management, have provided us with a strong foundation of the building blocks for continued business resilience,” adds van Niekerk.

Attacq’s rental income was in line with the prior period at R1.1 billion, with a marginal decline of 0.7% on a like-for-like basis. Property expenses, excluding the cost of sales of sectional-title units, increased by 14.8% to R433.5 million compared to R377.8 million at 31 December 2020. This was mainly driven by bad debt write-offs, provision for bad debts and municipal charges. At the same time, net operating income on a like-for-like basis decreased by 4.6% (31 December 2020: increased by 3.4%).

Furthermore, total assets decreased by 4.5% to R21.6 billion, and total liabilities decreased by 15.4% to R9.7 billion compared to R11.5 billion at 30 June 2021. The respective changes are attributable to Attacq’s concerted efforts to dispose of non-core assets.

Commenting on the financial performance, CFO of Attacq, Raj Nana said, “The last two years were about optimising our capital structure through debt reduction initiatives, whilst ensuring our existing Waterfall City and the rest of South Africa portfolio continue to perform well. Despite challenging trading conditions, Attacq has delivered a good set of results. Moreover, the progress made on executing the strategy in terms of the disposals is satisfactory, and yielded in reduced interest-bearing debt and an improved net asset value, further showcasing Attacq’s strong financial position.”

The groups’ focus on developing Waterfall City is anchored in developing a smart, secure, and sustainable city that attracts and retains residents, retail tenants and commercial clients. During the period, Corporate Campus Building 6 was completed with a total GLA of  3 970m2. The centrally located live-work-play precinct has another five developments under construction. These developments include 185 units in the luxury Ellipse Waterfall Cassini Tower, Nexus Waterfall Building 1, Waterfall Corporate Campus Building 7, Cotton On head office and distribution centres, and the first phase of the Vantage Data Centre. Having launched two residential developments, Ellipse and The Mix Waterfall, Attacq continues to ensure that Waterfall City offers a vibrant, engaging urban experience, even during the night time and weekends.

In light of the ongoing global economic uncertainty, the Board has elected to continue taking a conservative approach to capital management. Attacq believes that this will contribute to ensuring long-term sustainability. As such, the Board has resolved not to declare an interim dividend.

“As a business, we are primed to continue to unlock unique opportunities through our embedded culture of innovation and customer-centricity. There is no doubt that the short to medium term will continue to be challenging, however I am confident that the strengths and capabilities within our portfolio and our people, position us well to take on any task that lies ahead. We will remain focused on delivering to our strategic imperatives whilst ensuring we create sustainable value for all our stakeholders,” concludes van Niekerk.

Growthpoint Delivers Encouraging Half-Year Performance and Declares R2.6bn Distribution

Growthpoint Properties Limited (JSE: GRT) delivered a 17.6% increase in SA REIT funds from operations and a 5.2% increase in distributable income per share of 76.9 cents for its six-month period to 31 December 2021. Distribution per share was also up 5.1% at 61.5 cents per share. Its total property assets grew by 7.7% to R164.4bn. The Growthpoint share price remains significantly undervalued compared to its SA REIT net asset value of 2,148 cents per share, which increased by 6.2%.

Growthpoint continued to reinforce its liquidity and balance sheet strength to enhance its ability to achieve its strategic internationalisation, South African portfolio optimisation, and ambitions to create new income streams. It decreased its group SA REIT loan-to-value (LTV) from 40.0% to 39.2% and increased its ICR to 3.0-times from 2.9-times. In line with an 80% payout ratio, Growthpoint retained R524.6m before tax, ending the period with R515.8m cash on the SA balance sheet and R6.2bn of unused RSA committed facilities.

Norbert Sasse, Group CEO of Growthpoint Properties, attributes the solid performance to increased contributions from the V&A Waterfront and ASX-listed Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ) and improved SA finance costs, mainly from Growthpoint’s November 2020 equity raise.

Sasse comments, “These pleasing half-year results show the stability of our business. We are seeing encouraging signs of improvement, although it is too early to say that we have turned a corner while the environment remains uncertain and SA property fundamentals weak.”

Growthpoint creates space to thrive with innovative and sustainable property solutions in environmentally friendly buildings while improving the social and material wellbeing of individuals and communities. It is an international property company invested in real estate across SA, Africa, Australia, the UK and Eastern Europe. It is the largest SA primary listed REIT, a FTSE/JSE Top 40 Index company, a constituent of the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT Emerging Index, and a long-standing inclusion in the FTSE4Good Emerging Index and the FTSE/JSE Responsible Index. During the period, Growthpoint achieved a Level One B-BBEE rating.

Growthpoint’s international investments represent 43.1% of property assets by book value and 28.0% of earnings before interest and tax. It owns 57 office and industrial properties in Australia valued at R58.5bn through a 62.2% holding in GOZ. Through its 29.4% investment in LSE AIM-listed Globalworth Real Estate Investments (GWI), Growthpoint owns an interest in 66 office and light industrial properties valued at R57.3bn in Romania and Poland, with Growthpoint’s share valued at R16.9bn. It owns seven community shopping centres in the UK valued at R11.3bn through its 60.8% investment in LSE- and JSE-listed UK REIT Capital & Regional (C&R).

GOZ’s dividend of AUD10.4 cents per share (R527.0m) increased from the prior half-year of AUD10.0 cents per share (R494.7m) while withholding tax decreased from 11% to 10%. Its balance sheet strength reflects in its low gearing level of 29.4%, AUD315.0m of undrawn debt lines, and new and refinanced facilities secured at the lowest pricing in its history.

The Australian portfolio’s value increased by 11.1% in the six months. Its net tangible assets per share increased by 9.1% to AUD4.55 driven by leasing success, yield compression and rent growth across the portfolio​. All its portfolio metrics are equally impressive: it is 98.8% occupied with quality tenants and achieved a 93.0% tenant retention rate. Continuing its growth, GOZ acquired three high-quality office assets for AUD261.1m in the period and maintained its 15% in DXI by investing a further AUD60.3m.

“GOZ continued its sterling performance as a core investment for Growthpoint. It upgraded its FY22 guidance from 20.6cps to 20.8cps, with a target payout ratio of 75% to 85%, and is seeking access to acquisition, funds management and merger and acquisition opportunities,” says Sasse.

Mainly due to high levels of cash on its balance sheet – EUR418.7m and EUR215.0m in an undrawn facility – notwithstanding conservative gearing of 40.1%, distributions from Globalworth of EUR13cps were down by 13.3% compared to the EUR15cps for HY21. The period saw Globalworth focusing its capital on improving its tenant spaces and growing through low-risk acquisitions and developments. It has five light logistics facilities of a combined 98,900sqm under development in Romania and is refurbishing two mixed-use properties of 75,000sqm in Poland. Globalworth has an 11.5% vacancy rate and let more than 91,000sqm in the six months. Its portfolio collections improved to 99% for 2021.

“Globalworth’s portfolio metrics continue to outperform those of our SA portfolio. With strong demand from multinational tenants and limited retail exposure, it was relatively unaffected by the pandemic. Its balance sheet is strong, but its large cash holding continues to dilute earnings, and we are seeking ways to maximise this investment,” notes Sasse.

C&R undertook a £30.0m equity raise which was fully underwritten by Growthpoint, resulting in an additional investment by Growthpoint of £23.7m (R480.0m)​. Its successful recapitalisation and debt restructure, together with two properties being classified as managed and not owned, reduced LTV from 72% to 49%. C&R has high cash reserves of GBP58.5m, and its property valuations for owned assets of GBP380.1m stabilised during the period. C&R plans to resume dividend payments from the second half of 2022 in line with its previous dividend policy to distribute at least 90% of EPRA earnings.

“C&R is in a stronger financial position with healthy portfolio metrics including good occupancy, solid letting, and robust income. The retail property sector is showing a promising pick-up in investment activity with signs that market values in the UK have stabilised. We continue to believe in this platform, its management and its ‘needs-based’ community retail strategy,” Sasse says.

Growthpoint owns and manages a diversified core portfolio of 407 retail, office, and industrial properties across SA valued at R64.7bn. This portfolio recorded a further 0.4% devaluation, indicating a possible stabilisation in Growthpoint’s SA property values. It manages these assets to optimise their value over the long term but also seeks to sell non-core assets and recycle this capital. It sold 19 properties for R1.0bn during the period, taking the total of properties it has sold in SA to R8.6bn since 2017.

The SA portfolio delivered a decreased contribution to results. Vacancies in the SA portfolio reduced from 11.6% to 10.5% over the six months, with more than 758,600sqm let during the period. Its renewal success rate improved from 65.4% to 77.3% during the period, but this was achieved at the expense of rental growth. Rental renewal rates decreased by -0.2% to -15.1% but started to show some stability. Growthpoint has collected 92.4%, or R181.0m, of all Covid-19 rental deferrals granted to tenants. It achieved 100% collections for the period and improved arrears.

Its retail portfolio vacancies improved to 3.8% excluding offices, with increased letting activity from national retailers. During the period, retailers continued to restructure their portfolios, right-size their spaces and rebase rentals. Growthpoint’s portfolio enjoyed improved renewal success, albeit at the expense of rental growth and annual escalation levels. Its shopping centres saw a 7.0% increase in average trading density, with smaller community and convenience centres leading the rebound, value retail holding favour and shopper basket size has increased as turnovers have recovered faster than foot count levels.

Office vacancies appear to be levelling off in the Growthpoint portfolio, with more tenants returning to the office and hybrid working arrangements proving more sustainable than work-from-home. Enquiries for office space increased and tenants were willing to trade up for space in more efficient, sustainable buildings. Office vacancies stand at 21.2%, which puts renewal rates, rentals and escalations under pressure. However, arrears steadily improved.

Vacancies in Growthpoint’s industrial portfolio improved by 2.9% to 6.5%, with good letting in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where vacancies are below 1%. Renewal success rates increased more than 20% to 83.3% on more positive sentiment, but rental growth and escalations remain under pressure. The portfolio’s performance benefitted from better letting and cost control and reduced arrears. Taking advantage of market demand, Growthpoint disposed of nine non-core industrial properties. Another 20 industrial properties are in various stages of disposal.

Growthpoint’s cross-sector development expertise creates opportunities to generate profits and supports Growthpoint’s disposal strategy by unlocking the best value from its non-strategic assets. The contribution to distributable income from trading and development was R76.0m for the half-year. Growthpoint invested R480.5m in development and capex in SA and has R425.8m of capital commitments.

Growthpoint’s ongoing investment in solar energy and green buildings reduces carbon emissions, creates energy and water efficiency, lowers tenant costs and ensures continuity of power supply. The company has set an ambitious target for all its 400-plus SA buildings to be carbon neutral by 2050. Growthpoint started investing in green buildings and solar energy over a decade ago. It has 12.3MW of renewable energy generation capacity installed at its properties, which it aims to grow to 46MW in the next five years.

“Our SA business is well positioned with a strong balance sheet, which is critical considering the global volatility, geopolitical tensions and weak macro-environment placing ongoing pressure on domestic property fundamentals. With poor economic growth in SA, still below pre-Covid levels, our local growth prospects remain constrained,” says Sasse.

Growthpoint’s 50% interest in the iconic V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, with its share of property assets valued at R8.9bn, improved its earnings significantly with a 62.0% increase in net property income for the period. The V&A won its rates appeal and the City of Cape Town adjusted its municipal valuation by R6.9bn, resulting in tenant refunds of R77.5m dating back to July 2019, and contributing R28.5m to the V&A’s profit. Collections are currently some 98% of billings and were 93.6% on average for the six months.

With its quality portfolio and sound property fundaments, the V&A has been a star-performer for Growthpoint after being hard-hit by the Covid-19 travel bans and restrictions. The period’s partial resumption of international tourism led to a long-awaited rebound. 2021 visitor numbers were up 9.5%, leading to a recovery in retail sales and reduced Covid-19 relief, except for international tourist-dependent tenants. Luxury goods saw robust sales and restaurants showed encouraging improvements. Retail vacancy levels were a low 1.7%.

Office vacancies at the V&A remained low at 2.7%, with good demand for new space and 65% of the portfolio let to blue-chip tenants. Construction began on the 10,500sqm multi-tenanted office building in the Canal District anchored by Investec Bank in 6,900sqm. In the marine and industrial sector, the fishing industry traded as normal and there was a strong showing from the casual shipping, superyachts and yachting sectors. The cruise terminal was closed and reopened in 2022.

Highly dependent on international tourism, the V&A’s hotels operated at 50% of pre-Covid levels during the period. International passengers coming through Cape Town’s airport had only recovered to 27% of normal levels by the end of 2021. This has improved to 45%, signifying more room for recovery which will continue to enhance the V&A’s performance. Residential vacancies of some 30%, now decreased to around 20%, resulted from an oversupply of residential stock in the area.

“The strong recovery of the V&A Waterfront, although hampered by the disappointing reaction to the omicron variant which isolated SA from international tourism in December, has the potential to continue as more foreign tourists, conferences and convention events return,” says Sasse.

Growthpoint Investment Partners (formerly the funds management business) delivers its growth strategy to diversify Growthpoint’s assets further with capital-efficient alternative real estate co-investments. It now has three unlisted co-investments and R15.0bn assets under management.

Growthpoint Healthcare REIT has raised over R1.3bn of third-party funding and Growthpoint has an effective 55.9% shareholding. SA’s first unlisted healthcare REIT has a R3.4bn portfolio of seven assets and a R5bn pipeline of acquisitions and developments. It concluded a USD80m equity and convertible debt package with International Finance Corporation and acquired the specialist Cintocare Hospital in Pretoria. Growthpoint Healthcare REIT delivered interim distribution per share growth of 7.5%, and Growthpoint received R67.3m in distributions and R19.4m in property and asset management fees.

Lango Real Estate owns 11 income-generating commercial properties valued at USD601.0m in Ghana, Nigeria and Zambia. Lango has raised some USD320m third-party funding, including Growthpoint’s 16.3% shareholding through a USD50m co-investment. Lango is currently in a capital raising period, which it intends to use mainly to acquire a pipeline of assets, particularly in Nairobi, Kenya. Contribution to distributable income amounted to R16.6m.

Growthpoint Student Accommodation REIT launched in December 2021 with seven assets of 4 979 beds valued at R2bn, and a significant growth pipeline. Growthpoint has a 16.8% investment in SA’s first unlisted purpose-built student accommodation REIT, which has raised R1.4bn in equity, including Growthpoint’s co-investment of R240.0m. Growthpoint earned distributions of R11.3m and asset management fees of R2.1m from Growthpoint Student Accommodation REIT.

Growthpoint Investment Partners is strategic for our future growth. We remain focused on expanding the scale and number of our alternative co-investments that are distinct from Growthpoint’s core assets in the retail, office and industrial sectors,” says Sasse.

Growthpoint’s good liquidity, balance sheet strength, and conservative management approach delivered stable and encouraging results for the six months.

“Growthpoint is cautiously optimistic about the increased stability and potential for improvement. We are ready to optimise the advantages we have created for our business and advance our strategic priorities to achieve sustainable performance for all our stakeholders,” says Sasse.

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