MAS Real Estate aims to divest from Western Europe
JSE-listed MAS Real Estate plans to divest completely from Western Europe so it can focus on fast-growing Eastern Europe.
The company has been restructured over the past two years and is working with PKM Developments, which builds shopping centres and housing in Central and Eastern Europe. Many countries in these regions have not traditionally had regional and super-regional malls in the past.
“My aim is for MAS to become the pre-eminent real estate investment and development company in Central and Eastern Europe, focused on delivering sustainable and superior distribution growth to our shareholders,” said recently appointed CEO Werner Behrens.
The portfolio will have an emphasis on retail, but will also have exposure to residential property through PKM. The group said it can achieve higher growth from assets in countries such as Romania, Poland and Bulgaria.
MAS’s asset base has increased rapidly over the past few years from €300m in 2016 to €900m in 2019, with the company having been restructured in this time. In 2016, it changed its strategy from being a company that enabled a group of investors to move some of their wealth offshore to a JSE main board-listed company for public investors.
Peter Clark, a portfolio manager at Investec Asset Management said MAS’s decision to exit Western Europe is not surprising. “It creates a more focused geographical strategy. The strategy will take some time to rotate the asset base.”
PKM is run by Martin Slabbert and Victor Semionov, two of the founders of the largest shopping centre owner in central and eastern Europe, Nepi Rockcastle.
MAS said it was on track to pay a distribution per share of 8.75 euro cents for the current financial year to June, a 15% increase compared with its 2018 financial year.
It has set itself a three-year target of growing that distribution per share by 30% by the year ending June 30 2022.
MAS was created in 2009 as an initiative of several large SA property investors keen on diversifying their holdings into overseas markets. The major shareholders of the company then included Attacq, Mertech and Sanlam.