The group said in a statement yesterday that Comprop’s bid was “highly unlikely” to be approved by the required majority of shareholders and further discussions are under way with Comprop.
Safari shareholders holding more than 25percent of Safari’s shares had said they would vote against the Comprop proposal, should it be put to a vote. Earlier this month an initial bidder for Safari, by Fairvest, which had proposed a share swop merger, withdrew its “friendly” offer after Comprop had put in a higher cash bid.
Meanwhile, some 53million Safari shares held by Southern Palace Capital, the voting rights of which were exercisable by Safari’s chief executive or another person designated for such by the Safari board, would abstain from a vote on the Comprop proposal. Safari has about 311million shares in issue.
“Given these developments, the (Safari) Independent Board is engaging with Comprop with a view to resolving the impasse,” the company said.
The board was also finalising the appointment of a professional expert to express an opinion, if required, on whether the Comprop proposal was fair and reasonable to shareholders, it added.
Safari’s R3.2bn portfolio includes Nkomo Village, Mnandi Shopping Centre and Altyn Shopping Centre in Atteridgeville, Denlyn Shopping Centre in Mamelodi, Platz am Meer in Swakopmund, Soweto Day Hospital and Thabong Shopping Centre in Sebokeng.
Comprop, an Old Mutual subsidiary, has purchased and developed 34 shopping centres over 20 years, focusing on under-serviced communities in rural areas and townships in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces,
In the weak economy characterised by lower rental returns and property write-downs by listed property groups, fund managers have been encouraging smaller property companies to consolidate.
This could improve liquidity, strengthen their balance sheets to weather the weaker trading conditions, and be able to attract capital from a wider range of institutional investors that prefer investing in companies with bigger market capitalisations.
In the year to March 2019, Safari performed poorly, cutting its dividend 26percent 50cents after its distributable income fell 10.1percent to R155.8million, and in spite of a 20 percent increase in revenue to R299.4m.
Safari shares declined 4percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R4.80.