Capital growth fund Attacq, which listed on the JSE in October last year, is exploring opportunities in markets such as Mozambique and Nigeria.
Attacq, whose portfolio includes the Garden Route Mall in George, Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch and Lynnwood Bridge in Pretoria, also have exposure to property assets in other African countries such as Ghana and Zambia as well as to international markets like Europe.
It is also responsible for the development of the Waterfall Business Estate, a mixed-used development with approved development bulk of 1.7 million sqm between Midrand and Sandton.
Speaking at the announcement of the company’s maiden half-year results since listing, Morne Wilken, chief executive officer, said Mozambique offers a good opportunity and although there are challenges in Nigeria, the trading densities in the retail sector and the buying power is exceptional.
Wilken said Attacq has a “pretty strong approach in terms of Africa”.
It owns 32.5% of Atterbury Africa which focuses on retail development opportunities on the continent, at the moment specifically in Ghana and Zambia.
Attacq also has a 12.4% stake in African Land Investments that focuses on acquiring completed retail assets in Africa. Attacq is also involved in the development of the Bagatelle precinct in Mauritius.
“With those strategies we actually think we capture quite a big portion in terms of the African market.”
Expansion in Africa and other international markets is informed by the fact that Attacq has captured most of the growth potential in South Africa with its Waterfall development.
Wilken expects however that there will be redevelopment opportunities down the line in the local market.
Although there could be an oversupply in certain areas, South Africa is moving to a more stable market at this point time.
“That is why we specifically go into Africa. I think you are starting off a much lower base and therefore there is much more growth potential in those countries. If you look where we are in SA, we are at a high base.”
However, Attacq’s existing pipeline includes 90 000 sqm outside the Waterfall development in the local market, which shows that there are further growth opportunities in South Africa.
There has to be a fine balance, he said.
Going forward Attacq will seek new opportunities.
“I think market opportunities we’ve identified is the growth of countries that is coming off a low base – that is Africa and Eastern Europe.”
Wilken said Attacq wanted to achieve three goals with its listing – it wanted to create a platform to raise capital, create liquidity for shareholders and increase its brand awareness.
It has succeeded in this regard, he said.
Its free float has increased to over 60% and it has been included in the JSE SAPY Index.
Its list of shareholders has also grown from about 500 before listing to over
6 000 with 4.5% international shareholders on the register.
Historically three shareholders held in excess of 50% of the company. Their shareholding has reduced – Sanlam now owns roughly 17%, Royal Bafokeng around 13% and Mertech about 10%.
Wilken says a few corporate institutions have also taken up shares and Coronation now has a shareholding in excess of 10%.
Attacq’s results have met expectations, he says.
Gross assets increased by 13% to R15.1 billion between June and December last year.
Net asset value per share grew 19.9% year-on-year and 7.8% since June to R12.89.
Its gearing reduced to 35%.
“We’re quite comfortable with that level given where the interest rate cycle is, but as a capital growth fund we prefer to actually have higher gearing and potential is always there to go up to a maximum of 60%.”
Peter Clark, analyst at Investec Asset Management, says it was a good set of results – very much in line with what the market expected.
Clark says the growth in net asset value (NAV) is encouraging and also in line with expectations.
While there was very little commentary regarding what the expected NAV growth would be going forward, he expects that it will continue to be strong.
Clark says the share price does reflect a premium being paid in for future growth potential. Whether it provides a good investment opportunity will depend on an investor’s investment horizon.
The premium is understandable considering the growth and development pipeline the company has in place. A lot of the market is backing the management team, which has a great reputation and a successful track record of delivery, he says.
Attacq’s Africa strategy is a great growth avenue, Clark says.
Its acquisition into African Land Investments in conjunction with Hyprop was a good move and provides a great opportunity to grow its portfolio predominantly in the retail sector in the coming years, he says.
“I think they’ve already got good experience through Atterbury Africa and I think there can be good synergies between Atterbury Africa and African Land Investments.”
There are some good malls in Nigeria for sale and some attractive opportunities in Mozambique, which is also close to home, he says.
Attacq’s share price closed 2.5% lower at R18.44.