CEO of Inkunzi Kameel Keshav. Picture: SUPPLIED
CEO of Inkunzi Kameel Keshav. Picture: SUPPLIED

It will be some time before a student housing specialist comes to the JSE now that the founders of Inkunzi Student Accommodation Fund have pulled the plug on the hyped listing.

The group was unable to raise R800m from the commercial real estate investment community. It hoped to use the funds to bring a R1.4bn student housing portfolio to the bourse, beating various other groups who had similar interests.

The likes of upper market tertiary education accommodation provider CampusKey, inner city specialist South Point and diversified student housing provider Respublica Student Living, which is majority owned by Redefine Properties, have suggested they may list when big enough and when conditions were favourable.

But Inkunzi, which was founded by Kameel Keshav and Owen Nkomo, was supposed to be the maiden student listing in September, for a new subsector of property. Over the past two to three years, numerous fund managers have said the listed property sector was over-shopped with retail assets and was suffering from slow demand from large companies for new offices.

Stanlib’s head of listed property funds, Keillen Ndlovu, said in October 2016 that he was expecting a student housing group to list.

This was because of a bed shortage which was estimated at more than 250,000 units at the time.

Insiders said that the listing of the Inkunzi Student Accommodation Fund had initially struggled to raise funds from investors during the second half of 2017, having been announced in July.

But Keshav, a former CEO of Ascension Properties and a former chief financial officer of Rebosis Property Fund, said that the listing of the fund had been badly timed.

Just when the listing gained momentum early in 2018 it was derailed by negativity in the property sector in the fallout of a mass sell-down of shares in Resilient and its associated companies, Fortress, Nepi Rockcastle and Greenbay.

"There has been a lot of instability in the past two months which completely changed how investors priced our listing and listed property overall.

"We were making strong progress with our listing and were far into the process.

"We went in for formal approval from the JSE.

"We had gained commercial and legal approvals to list and had signed various legal agreements and then it all hit a wall.

"If we had tried to list maybe two years ago when the sector was booming, we would have had a much better chance," Keshav said.

Keshav said the Inkunzi team was now considering creating a private student-accommodation company instead.

"We are exploring our options. We could try again but another option would be going private," he said.

andersona@businesslive.co.za