International hotel group Marriot has entered South Africa through the acquisition of 80 Protea hotels by the International Hotel Licensing company. The Competition Commission said late January 2014 that it had unconditionally approved the transaction. The commission found the merger is unlikely to affect competition as there is no geographic overlap between the merging parties’ activities.
Questions are being raised about the efficacy of South Africa’s three-year old business rescue legislation, and the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) has added its voice to the debate.
“SAPOA believes that the commercial and industrial property industry has been and continues to be negatively affected by business rescue processes,” says SAPOA CEO Neil Gopal.
Business rescue legislation in the Companies Act allows financially distressed companies to place themselves in business rescue. After that, no legal action can be taken against the company and a practitioner is appointed to develop a business rescue plan, which creditors vote on.
If creditors veto the plan, the company goes into liquidation. But landlords – unlike other creditors – cannot prevent a tenant in business rescue from continuing to occupy leased space.
“Most other creditors can refuse to provide services to a company in business rescue. However, the law does not give the landlord such rights – and the landlord must allow the tenant to remain in the leased premises during the business rescue process, without any security of being paid its rental and utilities,” says Desiree Nafte, chair of the SAPOA legal committee.
“Indeed, the landlord is in an impossible situation.”
She adds that with economic slowdown in South Africa, the number of companies going into business rescue will likely escalate in the short to medium-term.
Almost 1 400 companies have started business rescue proceedings since 2011, but reports have put the success rate at as little as 12%.
In this regard, SAPOA is calling on Minister Rob Davies to meet with the property industry in order for the industry to express its concerns.
JLL South Africa releases research reviewing commercial real estate transactions
The latest research from JLL South Africa shows that commercial property investment activity in South Africa slowed down in 2014 with the overriding contributing factor being the low supply of investment properties. Covering the years 2011 to 2014, with specific reference to the office, industrial and retail sectors, the report focuses primarily on major transactions. According to the report, the total purchase of office, industrial and retail properties by listed Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) declined by 43.7% to an estimated R13.8 billion. In line with the overall decline in transaction value, the total number of investment transactions declined from 148 to 112.
Zandile Makhoba, Head of Research, South Africa at JLL, says, “2014 was a prime example of unfavourable economic conditions. GDP growth slowed, the economy saw credit rating downgrades and currency weakness and rising inflation all worked against investor confidence. Given these conditions it is not surprising that commercial property investment activity slowed. It is important to note that the slowdown was mainly as a result of a decline in willing sellers of commercial properties in the prevailing climate. Holding cash is a disinvestment in a high inflation and weak currency environment and, with fewer options for alternative investments, investors are preferring to hold the value in property assets.”
Key outtakes from the report:
* The industrial sector opposed the general downward trend in investment with a
notable y/y increase, even when correcting for the large sale between Macsteel and
·2014 saw very little cross-border investment in the commercial property market in comparison to previous years.
·Although total investment value declined, the total value of GLA invested in increased during the year. Hence the overall investment value declined to R8,524/m² in 2014 from R16,145/m² in 2013. Again, the industrial sector countered the trend showing an improvement in this regard.
·Economic conditions and new developments might slow the pace of investment activity in 2015. However, the trend is not likely to be balanced across the sectors.
“Looking ahead to 2015, the question is which property owners are most likely to be more willing to let go of assets in the current climate,“ says Makhoba. “The bottom line is that alternative investment options remain few and far between for the longer term investor.
“From an economic growth perspective there is little to suggest that conditions would be significantly improved from 2014. The treasury has forecast a muted GDP growth of 2.0% for the 2015/2016 fiscal year. We are battling to prevent further credit downgrades, the currency continues to struggle whilst the turn in oil prices suggests that inflation will remain a concern for economic activity and investment returns.”
With over 200 competing stands, Caesarstone was awarded the prestigious Best Overall Stand award at Decorex Durban on the weekend. At 84m2, the Raw Edges stand is Caesarstone’s biggest stand yet, allowing for the magnificent, 9-metre kitchen island to immediately capture visitors’ attention. The new, 2015 stand was inspired by a kitchen island by London design duo, Raw Edges, originally designed for the Milan Design Week.
The innovative kitchen island was made entirely from the new, concrete-inspired Raw Concrete Caesarstone, featuring a modified, trestle-table-style support system for the unusually shaped countertop. Instead of using the countertop to rest kitchen accessories and appliances on, holes were cut out of the countertop in order to store fresh herbs, potted trees and insert storage cabinets into the scalloped countertop profile.
The unique, zig-zag joins were lined with Caesarstone (3100) Jet Black to create a striking contrast and to highlight the unusual join line.
The Best Overall Stand award goes to the stand that judges feel is the best-polished experience. “Caesarstone thought out of the box and didn’t go for the traditional feel, which we loved. The stand was well worked out,” said the independent Decorex judging panel. Caesarstone has won over 20 awards for their excellence in stand design over the past 8 years, but none of the recognition is taken for granted.
“We are absolutely delighted to have won this significant award,” says Trevor King, marketing director of Caesarstone South Africa. He continues, “We’re constantly pushing ourselves to inspire homeowners with design and show them just how creatively Caesarstone can be applied”.
The industrial look was the main inspiration behind the stand design. “While the industrial style has been permeating overseas kitchen design for almost 2 years already, South Africans are beginning to discover the longevity and beauty of industrial and transitional kitchens,” says advertising manager for Caesarstone South Africa, Lisa Aspeling. She continues, “Our 3 new additions to the Caesarstone colour palette are ideal for creating the industrial look and feel in a kitchen or any interior space, which we were able to showcase at the show”.
Another exciting innovation displayed on the Raw Edges stand was an unusual coffee table made from Caesarstone (5133) Symphony Grey. Specialist techniques were used to bend the Caesarstone into a curved shape – an unusual treatment of Caesarstone and not easy to successfully achieve.
Caesarstone has introduced 3 beautiful, new colours inspired by concrete that can all be experienced on the stand: (4004) Raw Concrete; (4003) Sleek Concrete and (5133) Symphony Grey. Their new Caesarstone sink range was also a popular feature on the stand.