Sale of state properties could double listed property sector

Posted On Tuesday, 28 May 2013 07:18 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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THE state’s sale of nonstrategic properties could more than double the size of South Africa’s listed property sector and see transformation in the industry significantly accelerated.

 Thomas Matlala SAIBPPThis is according to Thomas Matlala, president of the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners, who believes that while the industry has seen significant transformation since the 1990s, only about 5% of the government’s rented properties are black-owned.

Mr Matlala said last week that government property was a large part of the overall property market, and consisted of buildings owned by the national government, individual departments, provincial government and local government.

The South African listed property market could grow in worth from about R240bn to "become a serious global player" if the government "unleashes" its properties that are not listed.

Doing so "could triple the market as it is today", while also releasing tied-up capital worth "more than what the treasury collected this year", he said.

Mr Matlala said the government’s leasing policy, and the property charter, which was gazetted in June last year, had paved the way for the wave of new black economic empowerment (BEE) property listings over the past few years. The bulk of the JSE’s new property listings have been BEE companies, which have a strong focus on government-tenanted properties.

These include Delta Property Fund, Rebosis Property Fund and Dipula Income Fund.

Mr Matlala said these were "the early pioneers — but we need to see more". "Even before the charter was promulgated, the good thing is the industry embraced transformation" — with several empowerment initiatives and other players selling government properties to BEE groups. Consolidation among smaller BEE property players to form bigger entities would also generate secondary industry transformation within the property management and facilities management industries.

But Mr Matlala said the "huge leasing opportunity" the government had to transform the sector needed to be accompanied by a focus on implementation and "checks and balances", to avoid corrupt processes, such as the police headquarters leasing scandal. The institute was offering the Department of Public Works some of its "seasoned property practitioners who are willing to go to the department, work there full time on a contract basis and help put those systems together".

South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) president Estienne de Klerk said at the Sapoa convention earlier this month that "predominantly all of the recent property company listings on the JSE have been black-managed companies".

Further, most of the existing listed property companies had significant black shareholding "and substantial progress has been made in transforming the sector". However, among the challenges facing the industry was the Department of Public Works’ struggle to attract and retain skilled staff.

"The department has also contributed to the … weak office sector, not to speak of the current account deficit, by adopting a flawed leasing strategy over the past few years," he said.

Sapoa’s legal manager, Portia Matsane, said last week it welcomed the proposed amendments to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act "and government’s efforts to enable … an environment of transformation that is visionary in nature". While Sapoa supported the revised scorecard, especially its emphasis on enterprise and supplier development, it felt "the same emphasis should be placed on skills development".

Source: BD

Last modified on Friday, 18 April 2014 09:33

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