South African commercial property industry stalwart Sam Hackner (65) – the founding head of Investec Property Group, non-executive chair of JSE-listed Investec Property Fund (IPF), former chair of Growthpoint Properties and erstwhile executive at Investec Bank – passed away on Saturday (August 7).
His death was confirmed by IPF in a Sens statement on Monday. While IPF described Hackner’s passing as “unfortunate and untimely”, the fund did not share any details on the cause of death.
Hackner was an influential force in the industry with a career going back more than 40 years, including playing a key role in the establishment and listing of Growthpoint out of the Investec stable and more recently in IPF.
He headed up Investec Property Group for 38 years until his retirement from the Investec executive in 2016. The group remains a part of the Investec stable and is not directly linked to the separately-listed IPF.
Investec Property Group has been involved in several of South Africa’s landmark commercial property projects, including a number of developments that today form part of the Sandton CBD, such as 100 Grayston Drive and even The Place at 1 Sandton Drive, which is home to Growthpoint’s head office.
On the retail property front, the group also developed Woodmead Retail Park (owned by Growthpoint) and some of the surrounding developments in that node on land near Waterfall that is owned by the Mia family; and, Cornubia Mall on former Tongaat Hulett land, north of Durban.
Values, passion and clarity
“Sam was appointed chair of the fund when it listed in April 2011. He endeared himself to everybody who was fortunate to work with him. His values, passion and clarity of thought became entrenched into the fabric of the business, proving invaluable and contributing to the success and growth of the fund for over 10 years,” IPF said.
“His work on the board and board committees showcased his innate leadership strengths and his commitment to coaching and mentoring. His wisdom, integrity, charisma and decades of property industry expertise have been a key driving force behind the fund’s achievements. Sam will be remembered fondly and sorely missed by all who knew him,” it added.
“Sam retired as an executive at Investec in 2016 where he had built and led several businesses, most notably Investec Private Bank and the Investec Property Group that he ran for 38 years. The fund and the property industry have lost one of South Africa’s sharpest minds, an icon, a dealmaker extraordinaire, a dear friend, a mentor and so much more,” the group noted.
Property leaders, including South African Property Owner’s Association (Sapoa) CEO Neil Gopal and SA Real Estate Investment Trust Association chair Estienne de Klerk, described Hackner’s passing as a huge loss for the industry on Monday.
“We at Sapoa are shocked and saddened at his untimely passing. He had a significant impact on the property industry, and we will miss his foresight and courage,” said Gopal.
De Klerk, who is also CEO of Growthpoint Properties South Africa, said it was a sad time for “everyone in the property industry who knew him”.
“Sam was a past chairman of Growthpoint Properties, where he made a significant contribution and was involved in the internalisation of management in 2007,” he added.
“He certainly served as a sounding board for many of Norbert Sasse [Growthpoint Group CEO] and my ideas over that time and his guidance and mentorship helped us significantly,” said De Klerk.
“Sam will be missed, and we extend our condolences to his family and friends.”
Hackner is survived by his wife Karen and children Nicci, Leanne and Gary.