Investors’ eyes on Steinhoff property
Growthpoint CEO Norbert Sasse says Steinhoff’s property portfolio may hold investment opportunities should the group opt to sell some of those assets.
Steinhoff, which is being probed for accounting irregularities, could choose to sell noncore assets, such as land and buildings, to meet credit commitments. This could create opportunities for locally listed property companies.
"We’re aware they have a huge property portfolio, but don’t know much about it. It would clearly be one way in which they could get some liquidity," said Sasse.
Many large private owners of commercial property — where real estate is not a core business — have been reluctant to sell their portfolios over the past couple of years in the hope of attaining higher prices.
A sluggish economy has damped real estate activity and made it harder for buyers and sellers to find one another. Garreth Elston, a fund manager at Golden Section Capital, said Steinhoff had accumulated property assets in various countries, the details of which should emerge in the coming months as the investment community gained clarity about the group.
"Steinhoff does have quite large holdings of investment property and land and buildings. The company’s last annual report  puts these assets at a net book value of €3.73bn [R60bn]," he said.
"Naturally, in a company under investigation for serious accounting irregularities, the concern would be as to the accuracy of the holdings and valuations thereof," he said.
While there could be opportunities for listed and private real estate investors to acquire assets from a distressed Steinhoff, it would be highly likely that most players would wait on the sidelines for more clarity to emerge, Elston said.
Redefine Properties CEO Andrew Konig said it "would be too early to speculate about Steinhoff’s property portfolio".