Stephen Delport. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Stephen Delport. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Lighthouse Capital, formerly known as Greenbay Properties, returned €600m (R9.8bn) of capital to shareholders in the year to September, as it divested from most of its infrastructure fund and concessions investments. The group has established itself as a fund that focuses on owning properties directly.

At the end of its financial year to September, about 80.6% of Lighthouse’s investments were directly held and the rest were in listed securities. 

The listed securities portfolio exposure had decreased to €72.5m from €689.6m at the end of September 2018 because of the return of capital payments. The largest listed investments were in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Klépierre.  

Lighthouse, which already owns two centres in Portugal and one in Slovenia said a month ago that it was in talks to acquire a shopping centre in either Spain or Portugal.

CEO Stephen Delport said the Portuguese shopping malls are benefiting from the growth of Portugal’s economy, which was 1.8% year-on-year for the second quarter of 2019. 

Average retail sales in Portugal increased 3.8% year-on-year to September. Retail sales for the financial year at its Portuguese malls Forum Coimbra and Forum Viseu, grew by 6.6% and 7.5%, respectively.

A gym was added to Forum Viseu and a refurbishment project at Forum Coimbra has been approved by the board at a cost of €4.4m.

The extensive refurbishment of its Slovenian centre, Planet Koper, was completed within budget during the year. Vacancies were reduced from 10.5% to 1.3% and footfall at the mall increased 3%.

Lighthouse, which is listed in Johannesburg and Mauritius, has declared a final distribution of euro 3c per share for the year to September.

Lighthouse also announced in early November that it will bring a rights offer to the market on November 25, which will close on December 6. It wants to raise up to €70.5m.

Lighthouse, which was formerly a member of the Resilient stable of property companies, is being investigated by the Financial Services Conduct Authority(FSCA) as part of its wider probe into the property group’s cross shareholdings, share price manipulation and insider trading. Other companies in the stable are Resilient, Fortress and Nepi Rockcastle.

Lighthouse said on Tuesday that the investigations have been closed. It said it is awaiting “the conclusion of the remaining FSCA investigations into possible share price manipulation by market participants. It is important to note that these investigations are not into the affairs of the company itself”. 

andersona@businesslive.co.za