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Futuregrowth buys KZN shopping centres despite recent unrest

Expands rural and township community property portfolio to more than R5.4 bn.
Murchison Mall in Ladysmith, one of Futuregrowth's latest acquisitions. Image: Supplied

Futuregrowth Asset Management’s Community Property Fund (Comprop) is expanding its portfolio with the acquisition of two shopping centres in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), despite the July unrest that saw shopping centres in the province targeted by looters and vandals.

The group, an arm of Old Mutual, confirmed on Monday that it has purchased the King Senzangakhona Shopping Centre in Ulundi and Murchison Mall in Ladysmith from Vukile Property Fund and Resilient, both JSE-listed retail estate investment trusts (Reits).

It did not disclose the value of the deals but said the acquisitions would expand Comprop’s portfolio to more than R5.4 billion.

The finalisation of the deals will bring the fund’s total portfolio of shopping centres to 22 and increase its total lettable area to over 369 000m2.

Read:

“We look forward to creating further positive community impact through these new acquisitions, whilst delivering strong stable long-term returns with a low degree of volatility for our investors,” Smital Rambhai, Comprop’s property manager said in a statement.

Rambhai told Moneyweb that the rise in Covid-19 vaccine uptake among South Africans, and the strategic location of the retail properties, are positive indications for growth in the short to medium term.

Despite Vukile Property Fund being one of the Reits impacted by the unrest and looting seen in KZN and Gauteng in July, Comprop said the 22 373m2 King Senzangakhona Shopping Centre suffered no damage.

Read: Fixing Vukile-owned malls damaged by riots to cost less than expected

The centre, which is anchored by Superspar, Game and Cashbuild, is situated adjacent to the R66, the main road running through the town.

While the 18 645m2 Murchison Mall suffered minor damages as a result of the unrest, the centre was fully operational by the date the property was transferred to its new owners. The centre is located in Ladysmith’s CBD opposite the town’s main taxi rank and is anchored by Shoprite.

Growth outlook

Comprop, which places a key focus on community development, noted that it has previously championed upskilling members of the local communities in which it operates its shopping centres.

It said it would continue to create employment opportunities for individuals as well as opportunities for small businesses with its newly acquired centres.

“Murchison Mall has a footfall on average of 870 000 per month and is located in the hub of a CBD where the major economic activity takes place,” Rambhai pointed out.

“We anticipate that population growth will continue to rise over the short to medium term and that economic activity will improve off the current low base coming off the back of Covid-19,” he said.

“The majority of the Ulundi municipal area consists of commercial farms and the area supports a substantial agricultural community. We believe that the growth in this sector over the short to medium term will continue to create employment along with the growth in population and contribute positively to returns.”

Read: Sasria to pay out almost R600m to Reit hard hit by riots

With Eskom instituting Stage 2 load shedding over recent days, the fund manager said running a more energy-efficient ship is at the top of Comprop’s list for these properties.

“We are in the process of improving the returns for our investors through various projects such as rooftop solar and improving the energy consumption of these properties where possible,” Rambhai said.

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This is good news from Old Mutual/Futuregrowth! Sasria’s honoring of the looting claims, has calmed any anxiety, about investing in the townships.

In the case of the unrest, the levels of violence was not as bad, as initially reported. Most malls suffered only minor damage, like Murchison Mall in Ladysmith. The protesters were mostly peaceful.

Do you ever read your own comments before you post them?

Levels of violence not as bad and peaceful protestors?

If only those protestors (that you refer to as peaceful) understood how the long term damage of their actions mainly affects them and not the educated man who thinks ahead.

@amoney..I’ve tried to explain to dearest EFFIE what the metaphor “engage brain before accelerating finger” means, but clearly something is amiss when it comes to comprehending a sentence

But, as the age old adage goes

“Some people are wise and others are otherwise”

Hey Effy
At it early again I see.
Did you know that stupidity is hereditary ???

I strongly suspect this reader of MW is a very astute observer of things economic and political. I also believe he has the mischievous sense of humour that prompts him/her to post contra logical comments in an effort to elicit the maximum retaliation from readers.
This is what gives such people oxygen.

Viva!

Absolutely spot on : best response is ignore : he is having great fun I’m sure .

Thanks Commissar for waking up so early and working hard to give us your astute insights, between 12-2 AM.
Unfortunately I do disagree mostly with you. Many malls, even more, almost all warehouses in Durban were completely looted and destroyed.
The perpetrators were NOT mostly peaceful protesters, they were actually looters, thieves, rioters, or euphemistically speaking for the bare minimum: totally unscrupulous opportunists.
Far worse were the instigators and the persons who drove around with crowbars and angle grinders to open the warehouses and malls for the looters.
None of these have appeared in court yet.
And our completely spineless, gutless Prez, who clearly sighed with great relief and announced very happily that JZ was given medical parole. And wished him well with recovery.
I do hold a considerably less compromising opinion about where JZ should remain till the end of his days.
Oh, and please don’t disappoint us by being NOT the first one to comment after midnight. You surely took over the torch, the baton from Chris Stoffel in that respect.

Must be kidding me, SASRIA is highlighted in the media for being ‘cash-strapped’, what reinsurer will cover this? The SA government uses tax from its citizens etc and borrowed money to cover this if the reinsurer does not. Now Old Mutual and other investors money is at risk. Maybe the economy and life, in general, becomes BAU again, the ANC will collapse with the factional battles of who gets the next tender and who goes to jail. Maybe I am wrong but if it was my money I would be on the Rob Hersov bandwagon.

End of comments.

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