Fountainhead takeover delayed

Posted On Monday, 21 October 2013 23:15 Published by
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It will probably take at least another 12-24 months before Redefine Properties achieves its ultimate goal of a full takeover of Fountainhead Property Trust’s R11,1bn portfolio.

Marc WainerThe impressive portfolio includes sought-after shopping centres like Centurion Mall in Pretoria, Blue Route Mall in Cape Town and Benmore Gardens in Sandton.

Redefine is trying to grow its stake in Fountainhead from 49,6% to just over 70% through a share swap offer. The idea is for Redefine to acquire up to 250m units (21,5% of total units in issue) in Fountainhead by disposing of its 11% stake in Hyprop Investments But Redefine CE Marc Wainer says it looks as though the company will end up with only about 40m more units, which would take Redefine’s holding in Fountainhead to 53%.

Last year, Redefine’s buyout attempt was derailed by sector rival Growthpoint Properties, which entered a competing bid for Fountainhead’s assets. The hotly contested battle dragged on for six months. In the end, both offers were withdrawn but Redefine, which at the time already owned Fountainhead’s management company, acquired 49,6% of Fountainhead’s units instead.

Redefine’s current proposal, which opened on October 2 and closes on October 18, unless it is withdrawn earlier, offered Fountainhead shareholders 110 Hyprop units for every 1000 Fountainhead units. In accordance with the Companies Act, the offer is open only to shareholders with at least 135000 units, which equates to a value of just over R1m at the current share price.

Wainer ascribes the subdued interest in Redefine’s latest share swap offer to the fact that most institutional investors, which typically would own more than 135000 Fountainhead units, had already participated in Redefine’s initial share purchase. “And most of the bigger investors are probably already full on Hyprop.”

Evan Robins, head of listed property at Old Mutual Investment Group SA, agrees. He says unit trust fund managers who still own Fountainhead units may already be at their legal maximum as regards their Hyprop holdings.

Nor, says Robins, is Redefine’s share swap offer attractively priced enough that it would sway investors who believe Fountainhead has inherent longterm value.

Nevertheless, Wainer says the plan is to acquire Fountainhead’s assets, though the process might take longer than hoped. “We still want Fountainhead’s assets but that will probably only materialise a year or two down the line. We will have to see how it plays out.”

For now, Redefine will try to cash out its remaining Hyprop shares. “We have had interest from a few big investors who want to buy our Hyprop stake. But we won’t dump our shares on the market.”

Wainer says once the Hyprop stake is sold, Redefine may come back with a cash offer to the remaining Fountainhead unit holders. “We will revisit this option in the new year. For now, it makes no difference whether we own 50%, 60% or 70% of Fountainhead’s units as we are already the largest single shareholder and own its management company.”

Len van NiekerkMeanwhile, it appears that Redefine’s restructuring efforts to turn Fountainhead around are beginning to gain traction. Some of its properties were badly neglected which weighed on Fountainhead’s income growth performance in recent years.

CE Len van Niekerk, who was appointed in June, says Fountainhead is now on track to begin a new phase of sustainable long-term growth in income payouts. “Management has embarked on several development, disposal and acquisition initiatives, which should significantly improve the quality of the portfolio over the next few years.”

Van Niekerk expects Fountainhead to return to market-related income growth of between 6,25% and 7,25% for the 12 months to August 31 2014. That will be a welcome turnaround on the 2% drop in distributions reported last week for the 11 months to end-August this year. The 11-month reporting period is a result of Fountainhead changing its financial year-end from September 30 to August 31.

Sesfikile Capital director Kundayi Munzara says though Fountainhead’s drop in distributions is within management’s guidance, it is slightly below expectations. He says Fountainhead is poised for a recovery once the backlog of refurbishments and redevelopments is worked through. “But investors shouldn’t expect a significant turnaround overnight.”

Source: FM

Last modified on Monday, 21 October 2013 23:31

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