THE BOTTOM LINE
Damn it, Jennett, nobody expected this turnaround!
Emira Property Fund CEO has overseen a dramatic change in the company's fortunes - and its share price
Emira Property Fund CEO Geoff Jennett was considered an uninspiring choice to lead the middle-sized real estate investment trust when he was appointed in September 2015. Although he had been Emira’s financial director, critics felt he was too inexperienced for the CEO position and were expecting a seasoned property veteran to take the reins.
At the time Emira was struggling with a high vacancy factor and many thought there was too much of a bias towards Gauteng offices in the group’s portfolio. Furthermore some of its properties were tired and fund managers also questioned why Emira had not made any attempt to invest offshore and diversify income streams.
Fast forward nearly three years later and it looks like his critics will have to eat their words. Jennett and his team have managed to transform Emira into an attractive diversified company that has also received a re-rating from the market.
In fact, while most listed property counters have experienced a subdued year as far as share price performance is concerned, Emira is up nearly 17% year to date. Its total portfolio vacancy is also significantly lower at 3.4% compared with 5.7% at the end of last year. It has also streamlined its portfolio and reduced its exposure to offices.
And while its competitors have all rushed into Western and Eastern Europe, Emira has become the first South African player to enter the US market having partnered with an American property fund that owns outdoor shopping centres with promising potential.