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Pretoria - Listed specialist industrial property developer and landlord Equites Property Fund, which recently expanded into the UK, believes there are still significant acquisition opportunities in Britain.

Andrea Taverna-Turisan, the chief executive of Equites, said on Wednesday it continued to seek properties with long leases and quality covenants in strategically important locations in the UK.

He said these locations included the East and West Midlands, the M4 corridor out of London to Bristol that served the affluent parts of the UK, and the ports around Southampton.

Taverna-Turisan said Equites was prompted to enter the UK logistics market because of the lack of suitable high-quality assets in South Africa and the need to mitigate emerging-market risks.

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He said although the retail sector in South Africa was under pressure, that pressure was not filtering down to Equites’ bottom line because its tenants had long leases and a low failure rate.

“We’re not victims of big rental reversions because of economic pressure,” he said.

“Despite facing some of the toughest economic and political challenges to date, the group remained largely insulated from market vagaries. We attribute this to our focus on strong property fundamentals, which resulted in virtually no vacancies across the portfolio and no tenant defaults.”

Portfolio

Equites increased the value of its property portfolio by 51.4 percent to R6.2 billion in the year to February from R4.1billin in the previous year.

Equites yesterday reported a 14-percent increase in distributions a share for the year to February, from 96.60c to 110.37c. Net asset value a share grew 9 percent, from R12.94 to R14.12.

Equites’ net property expense ratio decreased from 3.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Taverna-Turisan said the board of Equites was confident the company would achieve distribution growth of between 10 and 12 percent in the current financial year, provided macro-economic conditions remaining stable.

Equites shares rose 1.12 percent yesterday to close at R17.18

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE