Progress with Emira’s US investment

LISTED Emira Property Fund is making progress with the US real estate investment strategy it launched in October last year and now owns three assets in that country.

The strategy was to focus on grocery-anchored convenience retail centres in the US and has resulted in Emira co-investing with Texas-based investment and real estate business Rainier Companies, with its combined investment in the US now valued at R332.2 million. Geoff Jennett, the chief executive of Emira, said yesterday that the first US property, Belden Park Crossings Shopping Centre in North Canton in Ohio, was transferred in October last year at a total cost to Emira of R114.4m for its 44 percent equity interest.

Jennett said two further properties, Moore Plaza in Corpus Christi in Texas and 32 East Shopping Centre in Cincinnati in Ohio, were acquired after end December at a total cost to Emira of R217.8m for its 49 percent equity interest.

He said these acquisitions had been funded through the proceeds of disposals made by Emira to rebalance its property portfolio. Six properties in Emira’s South African portfolio with a total value of R236.5m were sold and transferred out of the fund at a combined 14.8 percent premium to book value in the six months to December, in line with its strategy of rebalancing the portfolio by disposing of properties deemed non-core, under-performing or that posed excessive risk.

Jennett said further sales to the value of R163.2m had become unconditional and were expected to be transferred within the next three months. He added that to ensure that the portfolio was more optimally balanced, Emira would continue with its strategy to reduce its local office exposure and 13 properties valued at R1.1bn, of which R917.8m were office properties that were earmarked for disposal at end-December.

Emira yesterday reported a 2.5 percent growth in distribution a share to 70.65c in the six months to December from 68.93¢ in the prior period to return to positive distribution growth. The investments in the US delivered their first contribution to distributable income of R2.8m. Shares in Emira rose 0.46 percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R15.15

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