PRETORIA – Listed diversified property fund Emira was making progress with the repositioning of the fund through its entry into the residential rental sector and the expansion of its investments in the US and disposal of a significant portion of its office portfolio.

Geoff Jennett, the chief executive of Emira, said yesterday that the fund’s international and residential strategies were well under way and helping Emira to counter the effects of challenging local conditions and an uncertain political economy that were impeding growth.

Emira disposed of a R1.8 billion portfolio of 25 offices in the six months to December to Inani Property Holdings, which was 51 percent owned by 98 percent black-owned Zungu Investment Company and 29 percent by Boyno Trade and Invest, a subsidiary of One Property Holdings, with Emira owning the remaining 20 percent.

The first 11 office assets valued at R701.8 million were transferred to Inani last month, following Competition Commission approval of the transaction in December, with the transfer of the remaining assets expected to take place before Emira’s year-end in June.

Jennett said this strategic transaction reduced Emira’s office exposure to 25 percent from 35.7 percent of total assets. “It has meaningfully changed our portfolio, leaving us with a very manageable 20 percent office buildings that were all premium and A-grade,” he said.

Emira increased its exposure to the residential rental sector in the reporting period by securing a 34.9 percent stake in AltX-listed Transcend Residential Property Fund.

This followed its conversion of the former Sasol offices in Rosebank in a co-investment with the Feenstra Group, which was its first foray into residential property investment. The Bolton apartments were expected to be completed in May this year.

Emira now owns a minority share in six grocery-anchored power centre assets in the US following the transfer in December of the Truman’s Marketplace shopping centre in Grandview in Missouri after investing a total of $6.1m (R84.02m) for a 49.5 percent equity interest in the centre.

Emira yesterday reported a 3.1 percent increase in distributions a share to 72.86 cents in the six months to December from 70.65c in the prior period.

Shares in Emira closed 1.86 percent lower on the JSE on Wednesday at R15.32.