Opportunities for property developers who know where to look

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Nedbank Corporate Property Finance Managing Executive Frank Berkeley contends that the likelihood of the marginal growth across South Africa’s various property industries means that finding good deals against which to lend remain a key challenge for prope Nedbank Corporate Property Finance Managing Executive Frank Berkeley contends that the likelihood of the marginal growth across South Africa’s various property industries means that finding good deals against which to lend remain a key challenge for prope

Nedbank Corporate Property Finance’s solid financial results for the first half of this year underpin MD Frank Berkeley’s confidence that there will continue to be opportunities for those developers and financiers that know where to look for them.

This is despite the fact that most areas of South Africa’s commercial and industrial property industries are likely to continue experiencing marginal growth.

There are promising moves around the retail sector, with a number of large regional shopping centres taking shape across the country. These include the largest retail property development finance transaction ever concluded in South Africa in the form of a loan agreement for more than R3.5 billion with Atterbury Investment Holdings for the construction of the Mall of Africa in Waterfall, Gauteng.

The new super-regional Mall of Africa will be the heart of Waterfall. The two-level mall forms the hub of Waterfall Business Estate and holds prime position in the tailor-made 330ha new city that embraces integrated living in its fullest live-work-shop-eat-play scope, with retail, offices, homes, hotels, a hospital, light industry and the all-important lifestyle and leisure components.

In the past six months, the business also closed a significant deal with the Billion Group for the construction of Baywest Shopping Centre in Port Elizabeth.

However, Mr Berkeley contends that the likelihood of the marginal growth across South Africa’s various property industries means that finding good deals against which to lend remain a key challenge for property finance houses. This, he says, can present a significant risk for those who take their eyes off the longer-term nature of the industry.

"During protracted economic down cycles, a risk facing many property businesses is giving in to the temptation of chasing after risky deals that can come along disguised as opportunities, which is why, in this industry, challenging times typically highlight the importance of proven experience, broad market knowledge, and a long-term view," Mr Berkeley says.


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