Rebosis credit ratings confirmed

Rebosis Property Fund, owners of Hemingways mall, Mdantsane City and BT Ngebs mall in Mthatha, has had its credit ratings confirmed, reflecting market appreciation of the company’s recent acquisitions.

PROPERTY MOGUL: Sisa Ngebulana of Billion Group Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
PROPERTY MOGUL: Sisa Ngebulana of Billion Group Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

The property group, started by Sisa Ngebulana of Billion Group, raised its market capitalisation to R8.3-billion and assets under management to R18.6-billion after it acquired full ownership recently of two key retail malls and majority ownership of a third.

Baywest City in Nelson Mandela Bay and Forest Hill City in Tshwane were taken over completely while Rebosis also acquired 50.1% of BT Ngebs City.

They were previously owned by Billion, which in turn is owned by the Amatolo Family Trust, of which Ngebulana is a trustee and beneficiary.

The internal transaction also saw Rebosis acquiring Billion’s asset management and property services companies.

In a positive response to this R6-billion acquisition and other developments in the past two years, Global Credit Ratings (GCR) affirmed its national scale ratings to Rebosis of A-(za) in the long-term and A1-(za) in the short-term.

“The outlook on the rating is accorded as ‘evolving’, recognising the notable headway that Rebosis has made in the past two years,” Rebosis said in an announcement to shareholders.

“The evolving outlook accorded reflects both the potential upward rating impact of these changes, as well as downward movement that would be warranted if high gearing metrics and a lumpy debt maturity profile persist.”

Following the latest transactions, Rebosis holds seven prime retail assets with an approximate value of R9-billion.

The company remains well-represented in the Eastern Cape, with Baywest on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth the biggest mall in the province and developed to take account of the city’s natural growth to the west along the national road.

Properties in East London and Mthatha complement the Rebosis holdings in the province, with Mthatha especially being regarded as a growth node by Ngebulana.

But the company is also strong in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces, mainly in office accommodation for government departments through the department of public works, which provides a hedge against defaulting tenants in its retail malls.

Hemingways in particular has been hit by tenants experiencing problems in meeting their rental obligations, with Rebosis resorting to litigation in the East London High Court against a number of defaulting tenants.

Ngebulana started the Billion Group in 1998 and Rebosis 12 years later.

The latest transactions resulted in Ngebulana’s stake in Rebosis growing to approximately 20% including deferred payments. Between December last year and January this year, Ngebulana sold off R103-million in shares in Rebosis to settle what was reported as a “maturing debt obligation”.

Rebosis was the first black-held property loan stock on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange when it listed in 2011, raising R1.66-billion in the process. — rayh@dispatch.co.za

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