File picture: Dado Ruvic
Durban - Listed Polish shopping mall and commercial properties group Echo Polska Properties (EPP) has announced that it is planning to raise about R1.65 billion in an accelerated book build by a way of issuing new ordinary shares.

Echo Polska said the book build opened on Wednesday.

The company said, however, it reserved the right to increase the size of the equity raise.

The equity raise was subject to pricing acceptable to EPP and would be offered to qualifying investors through an accelerated book build process conducted on JSE and Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

The company listed on the JSE in September last year. The book build was only opened for about eight hours.

“In light of strong demand, the amount of capital raised has been increased to about R2.2bn through the placing of 118918918 new shares at a price of R18.50 a share.”

The company added that subject to approval by the JSE and the LuxSE, the listing and trading of the new EPP shares was expected to commence at the opening of trade next month

It said it would have a total of 704-million shares in issue.

Java Capital acted as a sole book runner.

Read also: Echo Polska's bold plan to list on JSE

Chief executive Hadley Dean previously said the company, which has property assets worth about 1.4 billion euros (R20.44 billion), wanted to grow its portfolio to about 3.5 billion euros by 2022.

The company said in anticipation of the book build; it had successfully hedged 110 million at an average -rand exchange rate of R14.47.

The group has 15 shopping centres and nine office properties in Warsaw, Kraków, Szczecin, Zamosc and Wocawek in its property portfolio.

Jordan Weir, an equities trader at BayHill Capital, said the company wanted to raise funds for its future expansion projects. “Echo has stated that it has quite an aggressive expansion plan that it wants to drive until around 2022, according to the chief executive, Hadley Dean, on the run-up to Echo’s listing in September 2016,” said Weir.

He added that the company essentially stated that it is aiming to make at least three acquisitions a year until 2022 within Poland’s underserved cities when it comes to office parks and shopping centres.

“The accelerated book build was initiated to assist in raising funds which will be used to gradually execute their expansion plans,” he added.

Overall the group has 72 percent of its property portfolio made up of retail properties and 28percent made up of office properties.

EPP wants to reduce its office sector in 2017 by selling three office properties.

The company is expected to derive sales proceeds of 50 million euros by reducing the exposure in the office sector and plans to invest that money in shopping centres.

Echo Polska shares rose 0.64 percent on the JSE to close at R18.88.