Weekly Investment Update
13 August 2018

Headlines
When thinking about high yield investments, I suspect that Africa ex SA property does not sit high in many people’s minds.

However, we believe this asset class has the potential to provide investors with an attractive hard currency yield. For example, our Momentum Africa Real Estate Fund (or “MAREF”) is currently completing two office block developments in the city of Accra, Ghana. We forecast that the initial rental yields on these projects will exceed 10%. Lease agreements are dollar-denominated and annual escalations are 3 – 4%. We therefore anticipate that these cash flows will provide a healthy contribution to the total return for MAREF’s investors.

The institutional real estate market in Africa outside of South Africa is still in its infancy and is not presently in a suitable state for largescale retail investor flows. This will change in time: South Africa’s listed property market was in a similar state at the turn of the century (not long after Nelson Mandela was voted in). The market cap was only $1bn and it was trading at double digit yields. Today that market has matured – the market cap is at least twenty times larger and yields have dropped into the high to mid-single digits. We believe that the property market in Africa ex SA will follow a similar trend over the next 20 years as liquidity deepens and the quality of assets improves.

Whilst not being without risk, we believe that it is possible to sustain attractive hard currency yields. Commercial rentals in Africa ex SA are often charged in US dollars. However, earning rentals in hard currency doesn’t necessarily protect investors from Africa’s sometimes infamous currency volatility. If a tenant earns its income in local currency, it will struggle to pay hard currency rentals when the local currency plummets. In contrast, tenants earning US dollars (such as international oil or financial services companies) are well positioned to withstand local currency volatility.

A healthy yield is scant consolation if there is a simultaneous erosion of the capital base. In the real estate sector this means that assets need to be of a high and sustainable quality and they need to be properly managed. We are fortunate that fellow MMI subsidiary Eris Property Group oversees the development and management of MAREF’s assets. Eris has a 30 year history in African property, so it can apply its considerable experience to MAREF’s assets for the benefit of our investors. The importance of factors such as designing practical yet aesthetically pleasing buildings and paying meticulous attention to cost control cannot be over emphasised. These skills are unique to the real estate sector and they can only be learned through hard lessons over a considerable period of time.

Another key factor in creating a sustainable portfolio yield from Africa is geographical diversification. While it is often viewed as a single bloc, Africa is a continent of 54 countries with very different economies and political cycles which provides a degree of diversification.

Due to the challenges inherent in the market, MAREF is currently an institutional fund. However, we hope that the future funds will be accessible to sophisticated retail clients. The market will adapt slowly but as early adopters in this space we will be very well placed to provide access when the local markets – and our investors – are ready.

The Marketplace

  • Gold was down 0.3% to $1211.7 an ounce
  • Market sentiment turned risk-off last week
  • Brent crude oil finished the week at $72.9 a barrel, down 0.5%
  • Trumps ever expanding tariff regime dominate the global picture

US

  • The Dow Jones index fell 0.6% closing at 25313
  • The Nasdaq 100 rose 0.2% to 7408.3
  • US CPI rose 2.4% from a year earlier: the highest core inflation rise in ten years. Over the past month, both main and core CPI rose 0.2%. Points to continuing quarterly rate hikes
  • The S&P heading towards 3000 and almost back to its all-time high.

UK

  • GBP at 11 month low Tuesday at $1.292 as Liam Fox puts chances of a no-deal Brexit as high as 60%, though some EU member states have signalled a willingness to allow the UK to remain in the single market for goods
  • UK GDP rebounded to show an increase of 0.4% between April and June. Unemployment at a 40 year low
  • Retailer House of Fraser is rescued from administration by Mike Ashley of Sports Direct. He purchased the ailing retailer for £90m
  • 20% of UK retailers plan to reduce headcount over the next quarter according to the British Retail Consortium
  • The FTSE 100 finished the week flat at 7,667

Europe

  • The Eurostoxx 50 fell 1.6% to 3426
  • The Turkish Lira fell to an all-time low of 6.3 on Friday (-19.2% intraday) after a surge in inflation and deteriorating relations with the US. Trump to double steel and aluminium tariffs
  • European banks came under pressure last week, with BBVA, Uni Credit and BNP all falling more than 3% as a result of their exposure to the Lira
  • New sanctions against Russia were announced by the US administration, destabilising the ruble

Asia

  • The Nikkei was down 1% to 22,298
  • Both China’s imports and exports were up in July. US to go ahead with additional 25% tariffs in late August and China will retaliate at the same levels.
  • Iran to face cuts in oil exports of 1M barrels per day, roughly 50%, as the US plans to introduce new sanctions
  • The Hang Seng rose 2.5% to 28,366

Courtesy of Momentum
Source: Bloomberg.
Returns in local currency unless otherwise stated.

Past performance is not indicative of future returns.
This article is not intended to provide advice.
The information provided is for general information purposes only
and should not be relied upon by private investors or any other persons.
If you have any queries or wish to seek advice, please contact us.