Tower Property Fund receives Investor support for its capital raise

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Tower raised R300 million in its private placement, which it considered the optimal amount for it to reduce debt to a suitable level, according to Marc Edwards CEO of Tower Property Fund Tower raised R300 million in its private placement, which it considered the optimal amount for it to reduce debt to a suitable level, according to Marc Edwards CEO of Tower Property Fund

The newly JSE-listed fund, Tower Property Fund raised R300 million in its private placement, which it considered the optimal amount for it to reduce debt to a suitable level.

Amid a volatile and difficult period in the listed property market, Tower received good investor support for its capital raise prior to the fund’s listing on the JSE today, CEO Marc Edwards says.

With its shares listing at the start of trade today at R8.70 and at a forward yield of 9%, Tower is the first new property listing under the JSE’s recently launched real estate investment trust (Reit) structure.

Tower raised R300m in its private placement, which it considered the optimal amount for it to reduce debt to a suitable level.

Mr Edwards said yesterday Tower “felt it would be prudent to bring debt below 40%”, and that the fund’s gearing had reduced from 57% to 39% as a result of the capital raise.

Tower, which has an experienced management team in the listed and unlisted property spaces, aims to differentiate itself with a focus on “greening” its properties over time to save costs and make its buildings more competitive.

At listing, the fund has a portfolio of 27 properties valued at R1.65bn — 13 of which are transferring at listing or within a few weeks thereafter.

The portfolio includes two greenrated buildings.

“Going forward, our pipeline that we’ve got coming in over the next 12 months is just over R1bn, and that’s mainly properties for paper and cash, so we don’t need to come back to the market to try and raise cash to buy properties at least for the next 12 months,” Mr Edwards said.

JSE-listed Fortress Income Fund is a substantial Tower shareholder with claim to about R300m of Tower’s R1bn market capitalisation. However, Fortress’s holding would be “diluted down fairly quickly as we bring the pipeline on”.

Mr Edwards said Fortress was “a very nice partner” for Tower to have, given that the two funds were targeting different parts of the market. “So there are opportunities that can potentially come across both of our desks which we can pass each other’s way on a friendly basis.”

Tower was targeting a diversified fund with 50% retail assets, 30% office and 20% industrial.

Mr Edwards said Tower’s capital raise had been unfortunately timed against the backdrop of one of the listed property sector’s biggest corrections, during May and the last month. “Fortunately, we were underwritten by Fortress,” for half the capital raise. In addition, large investors had shown interest, with Stanlib Asset Management having committed R73m, while Grindrod Asset Management and Prescient Investment Management had each committed R50m.

“It was fairly well supported — we couldn’t have hoped for anything better under the circumstances. I think raising capital at the moment is going to be very tough for the next few months,” Mr Edwards said.

He said that many planned capital raises in the sector may be delayed. However, this was not because listed property sector fundamentals had changed, but rather due to volatility in the market.

Mr Edwards said Tower was targeting properties near major metropoles valued between R50m and R200m. “We will be looking to sweat those assets through occupancy cost reduction — that’s our number one issue.”

Tower had identified “a major gap in the small-cap sector of the market” for greening initiatives, and the fund would focus largely on reducing the operating costs of its existing buildings, which would “mitigate pressure on headline rentals”.

Stanlib head of listed property funds Keillen Ndlovu said last week Tower was an attractive investment for Stanlib partly because of its management team.

Read more on:

Fortress Income Fund  |  Marc Edwards  |  Grindrod Asset Management  |  Tower Property Fund  |  Prescient Investment Management  |  Stanlib Asset Management
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