After more than three years of trying, diversified group, Heriot Reit has successfully taken over retail landlord, Safari Investments. Safari was a takeover target for years as suitors believed the group which was founded by former CEO and developer Francois Marais, needed more liquidity in its shares and a larger management team which would include more people with real estate related skills.
Heriot which was founded in 1998 and then listed on the JSE’s AltX in July 2017, has gradually built up its majority shareholding in Safari since early 2020. Recently, Heriot’s ownership in Safari grew to 56.8% from 47%, after some 50-million shares owned by the embattled Southern Palace group were cancelled.
The 50% ownership level had been a hurdle for Heriot which the group has now surpassed and the group can now ensure that Safari continues to operate in a fruitful direction with a refined property portfolio, generating desirable returns for its shareholders.
“Safari Investments is now a key subsidiary of Heriot Reit. We have gradually reached this point and understand where Safari’s strengths lie, appreciate the attractiveness of its properties and how they can perform more efficiently, and are able to help Safari troll out its growth strategy,” says Heriot’s CEO and Safari’s non-executive chairman Steven Herring. Herring is a seasoned property developer and investor.
Safari which was founded in 2000, was listed with a market capitalisation of R1.278bn in April 2014, at an official price of R7.52. At the end of trade on Tuesday June 13, the group closed at a share price of R5.35 and a market capitalisation of R1.379bn. Its asset base, worth around R3.5bn, will be bolstered after Heriot adds certain assets which strategically fit the fund’s strategy to Safari.
Heriot’s CEO, Safari’s management team will also be given more guidance and its staff complement will be enhanced.
Safari, which is led by CEO Dirk Engelbrecht and financial director, Willem Venter, will sell its non-core assets including its Day Hospital in Soweto and Platz am Meer, a Namibian mixed-use development.
“It’s an exciting company with six very strong core shopping centre assets. We at Heriot are excited to grow with Safari,” says Herring.
Safari may be delisted in the future. Its management team is considering how to make its cost base more efficient which will help the company grow going forward and which will lead to share price and dividend returns for shareholders.
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