Property Flash


Accelerate Property Fund, the JSE-listed real estate investment trust (Reit), believes in the future of Fourways, the suburban and business node north of Johannesburg’s inner city.

The owner of Fourways Shopping Centre, Africa’s largest mall at 178 000 m²; has ambitions for the node which continues to attract young families, new businesses and investors.

Accelerate says it wants to expand its presence across Fourways and to improve the assets it owns there. It also has ambitions to acquire more assets in The Foreshore of Cape Town.

Chief operating officer, Andrew Costa says his fund can now focus on its nodal approach to investing as opposed to investing in specific asset classes.

He spoke following the release of financial results for months to end-March 2022.

“This year was tough given that we had to manage ourselves through the pandemic. We achieved various milestones including disposing of our international portfolio. We can now make Fourways Mall and our assets perform optimally now that the Covid-19 restrictions are behind us,” he said.

Fourways Mall opened only 3-months before the first Covid-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns in South Africa. Notwithstanding the fact that the mall has not settled post opening, it continues to report gradual and consistent improvement in trading densities, with 16% year-on-year growth during the review period, said Costa. This improving performance translated into a 90% occupancy level, excluding the space covered under a construction head lease.

CEO Michael Georgiou said Accelerate was in a far healthier position than it had been during the hard lockdowns in 2020.

“Accelerate has emerged from the pandemic in a much stronger position, with a much healthier balance sheet and a solid foundation for growth,” said Georgiou.

“The disposal of our offshore portfolio has always been an option, should the domestic macro-environment not support an improvement in Accelerate’s capital structure. To this end, we successfully sold our European portfolio and reduced our debt with R1.4bn from R6bn to R4.6bn during the financial year,” he said.

This lowered Accelerate’s loan-to-value (LTV) by around 6% from 48.5% in the prior year to 42.8% and created cash reserves and undrawn debt facilities of R223m.

The disposal reduced Accelerate’s short-term borrowings by R1.1bn.

Distributable income of R210.5m was reported for the period, compared with a loss of R24.7m in the prior year. A final distribution for the year of 21.98051 c per share was declared, equating to a 100% pay-out ratio. No interim dividend was declared.

The board also appointed former Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, and former Emira Property Fund CEO James Templeton as independent non-executive and non-executive director, respectively.

The group reported an increase in rental recoveries as a percentage of rental invoices from January to March 2022 of 92% with Covid-19 related rental assistance reducing to R35.1m for the year under review, compared with R182.5m in the prior financial year.

Alistair Anderson

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