Property Picture: SUPPLIED

The properties division of JSE-listed private school owner Advtech intends to grow its asset base to R6bn by 2022.

There is the possibility that Advtech could list its properties separately in the future under a real-estate investment trust (Reit). Many listed-property investors are hungry for more specialised Reits entering the JSE, said Old Mutual Investment Group’s Evan Robins.

A student housing Reit is set to list in October, making it the first education-based Reit in SA. Advtech owns the majority of its sites and campuses, with a small number of sites on long-term leases or leased with an option to buy.

The schools division includes seven brands, with 90 schools across SA, as well as Gaborone International School in Botswana.

"Our expansion in the schools and tertiary sectors in SA and the rest of Africa will further consolidate our market position as the largest education provider in Africa. We have an exciting growth plan with secured land banks across the continent, which will be rolled out in coming years," said Vongani Mbhokota, Advtech properties executive.

There were significant growth opportunities across Africa, where demand for private education was rising in line with a burgeoning middle class.

"A large portion of the planned expansion will be through Advtech’s own developments, with the remainder through joint-venture partnerships with other developers and leasing of properties where these make strategic and business sense," said Mbhokota.

"We … have sufficient balance sheet flexibility to support an ambitious but considered growth strategy as we pursue these opportunities to supply in the growing demand," he said.

In a collaboration with Rendeavour, an urban developer, Advtech plans to develop a Crawford International School in Tatu City, 25km outside Nairobi, in the last quarter of 2017.

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