Texton Property Fund has opted to cancel about R60m in interim dividend payments in order to shore up its balance sheet in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The dividend had been due to be paid on March 30, but the landlord said the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday “will no doubt exacerbate the difficulty our tenants face in SA”.

The group is a real estate investment trust (Reit), and is required to pay at least 75% of its annual distributable income to shareholders. Texton said on Tuesday it was committed to its Reit status, and would consider this in its year-end distribution.

The group more than halved its interim dividend to 16.09c per share for its six months to end-December, saying a the time that arrears from clients had climbed by more than a third in an environment characterised by limited economic growth and oversupply of office space.

The group’s UK property interests were under pressure from continued uncertainty over Brexit during its half-year, the group said, while in SA several speculative property developments came to market in Gauteng even as tenants looked for bargains.

Texton, which was formed in 2006 and listed on the JSE in 2011, was known as Vunani Property Investment Fund until 2014.

The group has a property portfolio of R4.2bn, of which 60.9% is in SA, and the rest in the UK.

In afternoon trade on Tuesday, Texton’s share price was down 6.25% to R1.50, having lost two-thirds of its value over the past 12 months.


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