Emira Property Fund has become the first SA-listed property group to invest in the US. The company has shelled out R290m for two grocery-anchored convenience shopping centres — one in Ohio, the other in Texas. Until now, no SA-listed property company has made investments in the US. CEO Geoff Jennett says the figure, about 2% of the company’s total assets, is just an initial investment, and Emira will consider making further investments in the US. The attraction for Emira is twofold: diversification amid low business confidence and a local economic slowdown, as well as the advantage of cheap debt in the US. "We can comfortably fund this from our own balance sheet and we can take advantage of access to relatively cheap, in-country, long-term debt finance," says Jennett. Other SA property funds say the US is too large and competitive to risk pension and investment money. The time-zone difference has also long been a hurdle for SA companies. Vukile Property Fund and Growthpoint Properti...

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