Growthpoint CEO Norbert Sasse. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Growthpoint CEO Norbert Sasse. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

SA’s largest real estate company, Growthpoint Properties, has repositioned its executive management as it looks to diversify against growing risks in SA.

The company announced at a pre-close period investor conference that long-standing group CEO Norbert Sasse would assume a new role, in which he would focus on the company’s offshore expansion.

MD Estienne de Klerk would become CEO for SA charged with managing the company’s R80bn domestic portfolio.

Other people in senior management have been assigned new executive roles, including industrial portfolio director Engelbert Binedell, who has been promoted to chief operating officer for SA.

"We believe this new management structure will serve us well for the next five years. SA is a tough environment and we are well suited to managing an offshore portfolio as well as a domestic one," said Sasse.

"We want to get offshore to account for about 30% of our business. I will spend much of my time travelling to monitor our operations in Australia and eastern Europe and look at potential investments in Africa."

Growthpoint, which has investments worth close to R120bn, has built up exposure to central and eastern Europe, specifically Poland and Romania, worth about R7.7bn in about 18 months. It also owns a 65% stake in Growthpoint Australia, which has a market capitalisation of about R24bn.

Acquisitions

The company is also looking for acquisitions for its new Africa fund called Growthpoint Investec African Properties (GIAP). GIAP has secured capital commitments of more than $212m from large institutional investors and has itself committed $50m. Sasse said he would travel to Ghana in the next few days to consider potential acquisitions.

De Klerk said that domestically Growthpoint was having to negotiate a slow growth economy and that even its prime asset, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront had come under pressure since April. The revenue per available room had dropped 8% year on year at the Waterfront in Cape Town, of which Growthpoint owns half or R8bn.

He said tourism in the province had experienced a difficult few months but it could pick up in the summer.

andersona@businesslive.co.za