The Waterfall node which is located in Midrand, is beginning to thrive as a multi-use precinct, just over a decade after Atterbury began to develop an assortment of properties on the land.
Today in 2022, JSE-listed Attacq owns the majority of the key buildings in Waterfall including 80% of Mall of Africa, which is SA’s largest shopping centre built in one phase, as well as logistics, office and residential properties, also located in Waterfall City. Attacq’s Waterfall-based assets are worth R13.3bn, while the value of its total portfolio is R21.6bn.
Waterfall is 2200 hectares big and Attacq chooses to break it down into three hubs when analysing it. These are the logistics, collaboration and residential hubs. In terms of the collaboration hub, these are buildings owned by other groups or owned in partnership with Attacq.
“Waterfall City and the larger Waterfall node have become superbly-run, integrated real estate offerings for all kinds of people, businesses and investors. I am incredibly proud that as a landlord we own and manage such a significant portion of this node which genuinely is competing with the likes of Sandton which has been established for many, many years,” CEO Jackie van Niekerk said after releasing financial results for the year to end-June 2022.
Attacq grew its distributable income per share 34.2% to 62.8 cents and its net asset value per share increased 11% to R17.49 in the reporting period. The company also resumed its dividend of 50 cents per share. Attacq’s loan-to-value also improved 43.3% from to 37.2%. Attacq’s interest cover ratio improved from 1.41 times to 1.58 times.
“Our metrics are strong and it’s pleasing that there have been steady improvements post the Covid-19 lockdown. We will continue to focus on the Waterfall node as well as our supporting investments,” Attacq’s chief financial officer Raj Nana said.
Attacq would continue to hold its stake in MAS Real Estate which was a strategic passive investment for the real estate investment trust (Reit). MAS Real Estate is a JSE-listed Reit run by Martin Slabbert, who founded New Europe Property Investments (Nepi) back in 2007 and grew it to become eastern Europe’s largest mall owner. MAS invests primarily in Romania where Slabbert’s business partner is currently leading a team that is developing residential projects.
It was notable that about 65.5% of Attacq’s tenants in Waterfall City were international companies. These were companies which had head offices offshore and included Ericsson, Amazon Web Services, Cisco and Pfizer. Van Niekerk said these tenants tended to improve Attacq’s overall bond covenants and they were very reliable tenants in terms of paying rent on time.
During the reporting period, Attacq completed developments sized at more than 47 623 m² of gross lettable area (GLA) in Waterfall City, up from 33 332 m² a year ago.
It also managed to amend its lease agreement with Cell C at its collaboration hub with the mobile phone services provider. Cell C is seeking new capital to continue operating going forward and will rent 24,955 m² of extra space. The warehouse component of the Cell C campus at Waterfall City, sized at 14,014 m² was re-let by Attacq at market-related rentals for a period of three years.
Cisco moved its South African offices into The Ingress building in Waterfall City, Midrand, as part of its hybrid work from home and office policy.
Vantage Data Centers completed phase one of its R15bn data centre at Waterfall. This 12 hectare campus will include 80MW of IT capacity and its three data centres will be spread across more than 60 000 m².
Van Niekerk said Attacq was able to manage Waterfall City and its service providers from a central hub while other nodes often had a “large number of service providers and moving parts”.
“I think this is an advantage for us. We are very close to all of what happens in the node and respond to challenges quickly, effectively and efficiently,” she said.
Attacq was focused on developing its office and logistics hubs as well as creating more effective residential offerings than it had in previous years, which suited a wider array of income-earning groups.
Van Niekerk said Mall of Africa was performing well compared with many of its competitors, as it served office workers, residents who bought groceries and everyday items, as well as shoppers who saw the centre as a destination mall.
Picture supplied by Attacq