Grit Real Estate delisted from the JSE last week, but the fund still has strong South African links with the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Eskom Pension Fund being noteworthy shareholders. In addition, one of the most prominent female CEO’s to emerge from the country’s listed property industry, Bronwyn Corbett, remains at the helm.
Speaking to Moneyweb following the JSE delisting, Corbett said it was not an easy decision for Grit, but it made financial sense.
“South African institutions hold more than 30% of the group, largely the PIC and Eskom Pension Fund, which own around 26% and 5%, respectively … However, having three stock exchange listings in Johannesburg, Mauritius and London became very complex and did not make commercial sense,” she said.
“We have seen a lot more traction in the UK after listing on the London Stock Exchange [LSE] in 2018. Just over 30% of our shareholding is now UK-based and this is set to grow. We have also seen a dilution in liquidity of the stock on the JSE, with, for example, the PIC holding its shares via the Stock Exchange of Mauritius [SEM],” she added.
“The illiquidity of our shares on the JSE, together with our capital structure, meant that Grit could not qualify to be part of the JSE’s All Property Index [Alpi] or the SA Property Index [Sapy]. We had to make a tough call as having three listings became too rigorous and a costly process,” she explained.
Moneyweb reported on Grit’s multiple listings in February last year and queried the costs and case for this. However, Corbett said at the time she hoped to secure a Alpi or Sapy inclusion.
Grit, which listed as Delta International on the JSE in July 2014, was the only real estate income fund on the exchange with an exclusive focus on the African continent, excluding South Africa. It has held primary listings on both the LSE and the JSE, as well as a secondary listing on the SEM.
The fund currently has a portfolio of commercial property assets worth around $900 million in several African countries, including Mozambique, Ghana, Mauritius, Morocco and Senegal, amongst others.
The assets are underpinned by predominantly US dollar and Euro denominated long-term leases with high quality multi-national tenants.
“We are thankful for the platform that the JSE has provided us during the past six years. The JSE, being one of the best regulated stock exchanges in the world, has enabled us to attract the attention of both South African and international institutional investors and we are excited about the opportunities this presents in delivering against our investment mandate,” said Corbett.
She noted that the delisting was “overwhelmingly supported” by Grit’s shareholders, with 99.81% voting in favour of the move.
“The vast majority of these shareholders have opted to retain their shares and move their holdings to either the LSE or the SEM. We would like to thank our outgoing JSE sponsor, PSG Capital, for their contributions to the Grit journey over the past years,” she said.
Grit plans to maintain its secondary listing in Mauritius, an investment grade country.
Meanwhile, Corbett said following the JSE delisting, the group will be focusing on upping its profile on the LSE.
“The delisting represents one of Grit’s first steps towards applying for a premium segment listing in London, which is internationally regarded as the gold standard for corporate governance. A premium listing is also a significant component of the eligibility criteria for inclusion in the main FTSE Index series, which could further improve Grit’s liquidity,” she said.