John Rabie, famously known for developing one of SA’s most successful mixed use development, Century City in Cape Town, has expanded to Portugal in a joint venture.
Over the past five years, several SA real estate players have entered one or more of the European countries in search of better growth opportunities and lower debt funding costs than those found in their own backyards.
In a JV with Geneva-based GMG Real Estate, Europe-domiciled Neworld (the new operational body that will spearhead Rabie’s residential and mixed-use developments beyond South Africa) is leveraging homegrown expertise to create a brand-new, €90-million (over R1,4 billion) residential and retail development in the historic heart of Lisbon, Portugal.
Commenting on the development, Rabie said, “Lisbon has so much to offer. An enchanting city with a wonderful climate, zero crime and plenty available for the growing tourist market.”
Neworld’s partner GMG Real Estate, has a track record of investment in urban mixed-use real estate in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Portugal. Since inception, GMG and its partners have transacted on 29 successful developments representing a market value of approximately €2 billion.
Newman Leach, the head of GMG Real Estate said, “we are thrilled to be developing this project with John Rabie and his Neworld team.”
Europe property still promising?
European-focused property stocks such as Nepi Rockastle, MAS Real Estate and EPP NV look set to reward investors in 2019 as they benefit from strong economic growth and improving rentals there, say two prominent fund managers.
These companies have exposure to the likes of Poland, Romania and other countries in central and Eastern Europe, which have strong property fundamentals.
The World Bank has projected that the Polish economy will grow about 3.9% in 2019 and 3.6% in 2020. It expects 3.5% and 3.1% from the Romanian economy in 2019 and 2020.
This is while domestic property stocks are facing a barrage of challenges. South African fund managers expect the listed property sector to fall short of double-digit growth in 2019 as its counters battle with sluggish economic activity and rising electricity and other utility costs.
A number of SA-focused property counters also offer partial exposure to Europe, either via directly held portfolios or stakes in other listed vehicles.
These include Redefine Properties, Growthpoint Properties, Hyprop Investments, Attacq, Resilient Reit, Fortress Reit and Tower Property Fund.