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Home » News » Business » PrimeTime expands in Zambia

PrimeTime expands in Zambia

Publishing Date : 28 November, 2016

Author : OBONYE MODIAKGOTLA

Primetime Holdings Limited is in the process of acquiring property in Zambia at a time when local companies operating in Zambia are facing headwinds from the copper exporting country that has slid in economic quagmire following the fall in commodity prices, particularly copper prices.

"The board of Primetime Property Holdings Limited (“Primetime” or “the Company”) through its subsidiary Primetime Property Holdings (Mauritius) Limited, is pleased to advise linked unit holders the Company has provisionally entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in Luongo, a private company incorporated in Mauritius, whose only asset is shares in Tilson Limited, a private company incorporated in Zambia," the company announced in a trading statement.



Primetime also revealed that Tilson Limited’s only asset is a 35 year lease over a site in Kubulonga, Lusaka, Zambia on which it has constructed a Shopping Mall. The Mall comprises approximately 7,500 sqm of prime retail space. The acquired target is a prime retail development situated on subdivision 6 of Farm No 377 in the central Lusaka suburb of Kabulonga. The property is being purchased from the sellers on the basis of a guaranteed return of 9.25% in the first year of operation which will translate to a purchase price estimated to be US$17.1 million.



The statement from Primetime also reveals that the asset is registered in the name of a Zambian domiciled company, Tilson Limited, a company incorporated in accordance with the laws of Zambia, of which 99% is currently owned by Luongo and the remaining 1% owned by a private individual who is an unrelated party of the Primetime Group who will transfer their share as part of the Agreement. Luongo is a private company incorporated according to the laws of Mauritius which is owned 95% by Pylos Africa Limited and 5% by Qubicon Management Services Limited, both companies are incorporated under the laws of Mauritius.



Primetime says the transaction is part of the execution of Primetime’s strategy to continue growing and diversifying the property portfolio in order to create long-term value for linked unit holders and will enhance the current geographical spread and mix of properties. “The Board believes that while the effect on net asset value and earnings per. share will not be material in the short term, the medium term impact of this transaction on Primetime will be meaningful as the rental revenues and asset value rise in line with contracted escalations, inflation and general economic growth,” the company said.



Primetime’s expansion in Zambia comes at a time when other Botswana companies with operations in the copper rich country are experiencing difficult trading conditions brought about mainly by the falling kwacha, the country’s currency. Just recently, Furnmart announced that they are pulling out of the Zambian market. In Zambia, Primetime currently operates office space rented out to G4S in Lusaka and Kitwe. The plan to expand in Zambia has long been mulled as early as 2015. In its 2015 annual report, the property company said that despite the downturn in the Zambian market, the company’s long term vision remains positive.



“Our expressed intention of expanding our footprint in Zambia, and potentially elsewhere in the region, is gaining traction. At the year-end we had agreed terms to acquire an office park in Lusaka. Despite current negativity surrounding the Zambian economy, with the downward trajectory of the copper price and in mid to late 2015 the subsequent depreciation of the Kwacha, our long-term view remains positive. As an investor driven by long-term wealth creation, the present trepidation in Zambia may give us openings that previously didn’t exist, while at the same time offering an opportunity to cultivate a US$ based income stream for Primetime,” the company said in its chairman and managing director’s report contained in the annual report.


The property companies listed in the Botswana Stock Exchange have since 2014 been trying to diversify their property portfolio to mitigate against risks brought by slowing local and regional demand. This follows a consensus amongst the companies that the property market was rather subdued and unfavorable for almost all property sectors. Letlole La Rona, another property listed company, says several factors have also affected their operations.



Letlole La Rona's 2016 annual report highlighted that factors such as depressed world markets and slowdown in global economic growth have affected business operations in Botswana. Last year, in an attempt to stimulate economic activity, the central bank reduced its lending rate on two occasions. The said rate was reduced by one percentage point from 7.5% to 6.5% in February 2015, and was further reduced by half a percentage point from 6.5% to 6% in August 2015 then finally to 5.5% this year.



The report further states that for 2016, the BMI Research has projected a 4.0% in inflation for Botswana. This means that property investment  firms will continue to face the challenge of lower annual compound escalations as shrewd tenants motivate for lower rates riding upon rental reviews occasioned by lease renewals. In such cases, property investment  firms face the unenviable possibility of failing to achieve targeted growth, especially  firms which were beneficiaries of high compound escalations factored into long leases.



"In the short to medium term, property’s resilience to weakening economic conditions is always challenged. The property market in Botswana has not been spared from the economic climate facing the country. Almost all property sectors are affected. However, the longevity of investment potential of property relative to other investment classes will continue to place property at a reasonably competitive level," said Mr. Paul More, Chief Executive Officer of Letlole La Rona, in the mentioned annual report.
 

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