The latest results from JSE-listed Central and Eastern European (CEE) property plays such as MAS Real Estate, Nepi Rockcastle and EPP justify SA investors’ fixation with the region, given the uninspiring earnings growth of their SA-focused counterparts. MAS, Nepi Rockcastle and EPP notched up dividend growth of 40%, 9.5% and 6.7% for their respective December reporting periods — not too shabby considering these pure rand hedge companies pay dividends in euros. That compares to negative, flat or barely positive dividend growth (in rand terms) reported by most SA property counters in recent weeks. Over the past decade, several SA real estate players have entered one or more of the CEE countries in search of better growth opportunities and lower debt funding costs than those found in their own backyards. The bulk of the money flow has gone into shopping centres, given the strong rise in consumption in many of these former communist countries. Nepi Rockcastle, MAS and EPP — all co-found...

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