In early 2015, we highlighted five private equity funds targeting sub-Saharan Africa as an investment destination. The perceived shortage of first-class commercial properties and the possibility of creating high-yield assets met with great interest. Data provided by Preqin in October 2014 showed there were approximately 8 unlisted real estate funds targeting $ 1.25 billion versus 91 Africa-focused private equity funds, showing that interest is still in the Was in infancy. To redefine the tone and context, the market at the time was very different than it is today, and the general sentiment was much stronger. The narrative of the rise of Africa was still very prominent, and Nigeria, alongside its African counterparts, had average growth rates of between 5 and 7%.
How have these 5 investors adjusted now that the market has changed a lot? Two investors have sold or are in the process of selling their businesses to other investors, two remain active while another is inactive. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the 2015 Spotlight (unprocessed) and an update on their current strategy / status for 2021.
2015 in focus: Resilient Property Income Fund is an established REIT in South Africa that has been developing shopping centers across South Africa since 2002 and has the sole purpose of developing high quality shopping centers in dominant metro and rapidly urbanizing areas in Nigeria. Resilient has a 50.98% stake in the development company, with Standard Bank and Shoprite Holdings Limited as minority partners. Below is an overview of the current projects in secondary cities in Nigeria, possibly to avoid an oversupply of offices and retail stores in the big cities and to take advantage of the first mover advantage in these smaller cities.
In line with its strategy in South Africa, Resilient Africa plans to keep its shopping malls in order to exit the portfolio over the long term via a REIT.
Update 2021: Of the 4 facilities described above, only 3 have been completed and other plans, including the development of the Rivers Mall, a shopping mall in Port Harcourt City, have also been suspended. The size of the completed shopping centers also differed from the original plans, as Asaba and Owerri Mall are 8,000 m² and 8,680 m² respectively.
In late 2020, Resilient reported an 11% drop in income in its Nigeria portfolio, citing a challenging macroeconomic environment in Nigeria and capacity constraints due to COVID as key challenges. Although the rolling 6-month vacancy rate improved from 9.3% to 5.9% and eventually to 4.6% in the period through June 2021, the group announced its intention to dispose of its entire Nigeria portfolio / business Shoprite Holdings Limited. In its annual financial statements for the 12 month period ending June 2021, Resilient stated that an agreement in principle to dispose of the portfolio / operations was in place and that its Nigerian subsidiaries are now classified as discontinued operations (long-term assets held for sale and discontinued operations). As of June 2021, the purchase consideration had not yet been agreed.
2015 in focus: This fund was established by a subsidiary of FirstRand Limited and Westport Property (50% each) to raise capital for RMB Westport with a focus on developing retail and mixed use projects in major cities in Africa. The company began operations in 2008 and had already met its $ 250 million goal for its first fund by October 2012. Completions include the Ikeja City Mall, the first world-class mall on the Lagos mainland, and two other projects in Ghana. Its current pipeline includes the Osapa and Royal Gardens Mall in Lekki and two other malls in the Angolan capital Luanda.
Update 2021: RMB Westport has completed notable developments in Lagos including The Wings Towers as well as Circle (Osapa) Mall and Business Center and The Junction Mall in Angola. However, the entity did not survive. In 2020, the sale / transfer of RMB Westport’s portfolio for USD 300 million to Growthpoint Investec African Properties (GIAP) was completed.
Growthpoint Investec African Properties is a joint venture announced in 2015 between Growthpoint Properties and Investec Asset Management. The joint venture aims to invest in high-yield commercial real estate in selected cities on the African continent. In April 2021, GIAP was renamed Lango, which means “entry point” or “gateway” in Swahili, to reflect its strategy of becoming an entry point for sophisticated investor capital intended to flow into the African real estate sector. RMB Westport’s most ambitious project, which would have become Nigeria’s largest shopping mall, is currently held as a plot in the Lango portfolio. Originally a 28,000 m² shopping center called Royal Gardens Mall was planned on the edge of the Royal Gardens Estate in Ajah.
MOMENTUM AFRICA REAL ESTATE FUND (MAREF)
2015 in the spotlight: This $ 250 million fund was created as a collaboration between Eris Property Group and Momentum Global Investment Managers (a subsidiary of MMI Group). While the fund is ongoing, its focus will be on A-class retail, office and industrial properties in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.
Update 2021: In its fund brochure of October 2020, MAREF described itself as an institutional real estate fund valued at 205 million US dollars, which finances and develops office buildings, warehouses and category A shopping centers in sub-Saharan Africa. MAREF has so far put together a small and relatively successful portfolio of real estate assets. These include:
- The 4,968 m2 (only Block A) Mon Tressor Business Gateway in Mauritius, which was completed in August 2018.
- The 9,814 m² 335 Place Office Tower in Accra, Ghana, was also completed in August 2018.
- The 12,837 m² SU Office Tower in Accra, Ghana, which was completed in November 2018.
The fund originally tried to sponsor at least 3 deals in Nigeria, including the Sogenal Office Tower in Ikoyi – Lagos, the Maitama Mixed-Use Center in Maitama – Abuja FCT and the Agbara Industrial Estate in Agbara – Lagos.
STANLIB Africa Direct Property Development Fund
2015 in the spotlight: This fund was launched by STANLIB Limited, an asset manager based in Johannesburg, through its STANLIB Direct Property Investments franchise. The fund is primarily focused on retail oriented developments and the sector is expected to represent between 60 and 80% of its portfolio. Investments are made in the growth markets of sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
Update 2021: Not much information is currently available about the entity. In 2017, the STANLIB Africa Direct Property Development Fund and Chestnut Uganda signed an agreement to develop a $ 50 million shopping mall in Kampala called Arena Mall. Stanlib’s activities not directly related to this fund were the STANLIB Fahari I-REIT. In 2019, however, STANLIB Kenya Limited sold its investment management mandates, rights and obligations for the STANLIB Fahari I-REIT to ICEA Lion Asset Management Limited. Therefore the REIT is now called ILAM Fahari I-REIT.
NOVARE Africa Property Fund II
2015 in the spotlight: This Mauritius-based $ 250 million fund, funded primarily by South African pension funds, is not new to the Nigerian retail sector as it has already completed the Grand Towers Abuja Mall in the FCT. This fund follows the successful completion of its predecessor, Novare Africa Property Fund I, with a volume of 81 million. Located close to Lagos Business School, Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate and the Lekki Free Trade Zone shopping center, which will have a gross rentable area of 20,000 m² with anchor tenants such as Shoprite, Game, Wrangler, Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, etc.
Update 2021: Novare Africa Property Fund II closed in June 2016 and raised a total of $ 351 million. The fund has opened a total of 7 shopping centers, 1 office development and another mixed-use project (retail and office) in 3 African countries. With a portfolio this size, we expect an exit through the creation of an income vehicle or a mass sale to a larger investor with an appetite.
Though not portrayed in the original spotlight, the few notable veterans include Actis, credited with launching the first African private real estate fund (AARE 1) at $ 154 million, followed by the CAPIC fund at $ 165 million from African Capital Alliance in 2008. Actis is now switching to its income-driven funds called Actis Africa Sustainable Real Estate Income Fund and Actis West Africa REIF LP. These funds are currently trying to re-acquire Ikeja City Mall. The Mara Delta Fund, now renamed GRIT, has maintained its income strategy and continued to expand across the continent.
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