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Equites Property Fund: Driven by excellence, underpinned by a passion for prime logistics buildings

03 October 2022

From the onset, Equites Property Fund set itself apart by delivering excellence – whether in acquisitions, developments, selecting tenants, and employees or managing its assets.

It continues to excel in striving to be South Africa’s leading developer of prime logistics properties and partner of choice for multi-national tenants.

This excellence stems from its Italian name ‘equites’ – meaning horse or cavalry men – which constituted the second of the property-based classes of ancient Rome, according to Wikipedia

Founder and CEO of Equites Property Fund Andrea Taverna-Turisan says the founding of Equites had massive Italian influence (Taverna-Turisan is Italian). Taverna-Turisan works alongside co-founders, the Lanfranchi family, and Riaan Gous (chief operating officer).

Taverna-Turisan explains that the equite was the most noble and highest calibre of the Roman cavalry, equivalent to the American Navy Seal.

“It was the excellent and elite nature of the equite that made us settle for Equites as the name of our company. Excellence runs through our DNA – it governs how we behave as a company; it can be seen in the premium portfolio we own, the design of our buildings, the people we employ, the tenants we have as well as our partners.”

The red Pegasus logo represents power and strength – key characteristic traits that have underpinned Equites Property Fund’s growth since listing in 2014 and which have seen consistent striving to be the best in class.

 

The journey to REIT excellence

Years before the logistics property sector took off in South Africa, Taverna-Turisan had a vision of building a large-scale logistics-property-sector business.

To attract capital and build scale, he would need to enter the capital markets through listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) – and would also need to partner with likeminded investors.

For eight years before listing Equites, Taverna-Turisan was an industrial property developer who had built an impressive portfolio of logistics properties in the Western Cape.

During this time, he was also a founding partner of Leftfield Capital which invested in logistics properties in the UK. He sold his interest in the business in 2015 to fully focus on Equites.

Together with his partners – the Lanfranchi family and Gous – they combined the logistics assets they had accumulated as individuals to list Equites as a specialist logistics real estate investment trust (Reit) on 18 June 2014.

Equites listed with a property portfolio valued at R1bn. At the end of February 2022, its portfolio of quality assets in South Africa and the UK was valued at R25.7bn and was supported by acquisitions, developments, and property valuation uplifts.

‘The main reason for listing was to access capital and opportunities to accelerate the growth of the fund through acquisitions and developments,’ says Taverna-Turisan.

At the time of listing, Equites only owned assets in the Western Cape, with intentions to expand its footprint to Durban – the country’s logistics hub, and Johannesburg – the engine of Africa.

 

The Symbol of Property excellence continues

Today, Equites operates in South Africa’s three main provinces, namely the Western Cape where the company was founded, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

In 2016, with Taverna-Turisan’s knowledge of the UK property market and logistics sector, Equites entered the UK market. Equites partnered with UK property investor Newlands Property Development in 2020 to build scale in the top end of the logistics market.

“The UK exposure helps to diversify against risk, including rand volatility, and the partnership with Newlands gives Equites access to land holdings in the UK.”

In its pre-close presentation in August, Equites said demand for logistics space in South Africa and the UK remained high.

Key factors driving this demand include supply chain optimisation and growth in e-commerce, resulting in growth in market rentals for the company.

Equites remains well-capitalised with low levels of debt. It has multiple sources of funding for its acquisitions and development pipeline, including equity markets through the JSE, the dividend reinvestment programme (DRIP), partnership with the Eskom Provident Pension Fund (EPPF), funds from the sale of assets and capital generated through turnkey developments and land disposals, among other sales.

“We expect demand for logistics and warehousing space to remain robust in South Africa and the UK.”

Taverna-Turisan says, since listing, Equites has experienced successful capital raising opportunities that have enabled the company to grow as well as enter into joint venture partnerships with other investors

“While we’ve turned our dream into reality through listing, our ambition to be the purveyor of excellence in the logistics sector hasn’t diminished. Our expectations are for Equites to keep growing and deliver sustainable value for its shareholders,” says Taverna-Turisan.

Taverna-Turisan believes the logistics sector will continue to grow exponentially for at least the next 10 years as global supply chains evolve. This presents massive opportunities in the sector, and, to this end, Equites is looking to exploit those opportunities to grow its assets under ownership from R25.7bn to R50bn in the next five years.

“However, growth will be organic, and we will continue to acquire the right assets at the right prices in line with our investment strategy.”

Equites will release its six-month results for the period ending 31 August 2022 with a review of the company’s performance and future strategy.

© 2024 Equites Property Fund Ltd.
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