Property Flash


July 31 2023

Some South Africans have impressed with how and where they have allocated capital abroad. However, Atterbury Europe, a group formed in 2014 as a prominent developer wanting to create returns for high-net-worth South Africans and other investors, really stands out for its smart investing and management.

The company was formed when the 1995 established South African developer Atterbury moved to create an offshore company to drive a positive expansion drive. Atterbury Europe’s strategy from the beginning was to team up with entrepreneurs in eastern Europe .

Atterbury Europe then developed an assortment of assets including retail and office properties with assistance, but independent from Atterbury in South Africa.

Atterbury Europe’s CEO Henk Deist explains that the company partnered with like-minded people in an economic region which was set to grow after a large change in its political regime and economic system.

“We picked like-minded business partners. Like the Atterbury SA story, entrepreneurs in Romania and Serbia had the opportunity to start and grow businesses post a change in political regime, in their case communism, built it to a point, and wanted to accelerate the growth by partnering with Atterbury. Apart from the people, the selected investment destinations had and still have sound macro-economic indicators,” says Deist.

Today Atterbury Europe owns two malls in Cyprus and has interests in four retail assets in Romania and five retail assets in Serbia. The Cypriot assets are The Mall of Cyprus in the Shacolas Emporium Park and the Mall of Engomi. The Romanian retail assets are the Iulius Mall Timisoara, Iulius Mall Cluj, Iulius Mall Suceava and Iulius Mall Iasi and the Serbian ones are Mercator Centre, BEO Shopping Centre, Usce Shopping Centre, Immo centre and  a store  on the Kanem Knez Mihailova high street, the busiest high street in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital.

The group also owns office properties in Romania which supplement its portfolio, and which include retail components.

Retail property ownership and management has been the core of the business, Deist explains.   

“I think you can add more value to retail through asset management compared with offices. We bring in offices as part of a mixed-use development boosting the retail feet during the week and in our latest development in Cluj with the Iulius Group, we are also thinking about adding a residential component,” he says.

The company’s small and sophisticated team includes highly skilled dealmakers who have developed investment criteria which will enable Atterbury Europe to invest in the most appropriate markets on the continent with precise timing.

“Because the operations, with the exception of Cyprus, are run by our business partners,  Atterbury Europe has a small investment holding company staff of seven people that adds value to the underlying investments through active management of the portfolio in the areas of funding and balance sheet management, corporate transactions including mergers, acquisitions and disposals, asset management and development management. We have nurtured a hands-on approach so that we can give our assets valuable attention and generate maximum returns for our shareholders,” says Deist.

In terms of growth potential of the retail portfolio, Atterbury Europe’s largest green fields development is a €500m multi-use project with the Iulius Group in Cluj Napoca, Romania.

In terms of expansion opportunities, the team is considering industrial and logistics assets in Hungary and Romania.

Atterbury Europe’s approach has created consistent capital growth which its investors who bought into its story over the past decade were proven right. Being focused and nimble can only spur on its class.

“For us focus trumps diversity. We consider what size we can properly manage and add value to. Diversity helps if you own assets in countercyclical asset classes, but we are retail dominant and are now dipping a toe in the water with industrial and logistics,” Deist explains.

The Atterbury Europe team’s decision to focus on eastern Europe over the long term is valid with its investments excelling even while a war is taking place between Ukraine and Russia.

The war is geographically contained to Ukraine even if it has sparked big changes in the macro-economic environment in Europe. It ended a decade of low interest rates and inflation and caused a huge spike in energy prices.

“The direct impact is the cost of and availability of bank debt for developments, but we believe the high-quality developments we have will get the required bank funding,” says Deist.

The future of Atterbury Europe is bright and enticing for all parties involved including its investors.

“We have an increasing following of South African private individual investors invested through investment vehicles allowing investing from South Africa or abroad. Atterbury Europe is primarily a capital growth investment as we use free cash flow to redeem bank debt and roll-out developments,” says Deist.

To get on board with the group, individuals can access specific private share placements with minimum investment ticket sizes. The main investment platform is administered by Pretoria-based Pallidus Capital and enquiries can be made through this independent boutique corporate finance advisory.

Tel: 012 880 2490

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