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4 days 7 hours ago

Further to the SENS announcements published on the 1st of April 2020, the 15th of April 2020, and the 15th of May 2020, Attacq has provided a further update on the impact of Covid-19 on its business, prior to entering a closed period on the 1st of July 2020.

As at the 31st of May 2020, the company’s available resources totalled R1.1 billion, comprising of R741 million of cash and R310 million of committed liquidity facilities with banks. The group’s debt facilities are spread between five South African banks and four South African institutions with no exposure to the bond markets.

Attacq has group covenants relating to loan-to-value and net asset value as well as portfolio loan-to-value and interest cover ration covenants in place with its lenders. Covenant measurements are reported bi-annually in March and September each year, based on the most recent December interim and June full year financial results, respectively. No group or portfolio covenant breaches are anticipated for the covenant reporting period ending on the 30th of June 2020 and to be measured in September 2020.

In the company’s results for the interim period ended on the 31st of December 2019, Attacq reported that R1.2 billion of its interest-bearing debt was due for repayment by the 31st of December 2020, with a further R3.5 billion due by the 30th of June 2021. Given the economic impact of Covid-19 and the uncertain outlook it created, Attacq proactively approached its lenders requesting the extension of any debt maturing prior to the 30th of September 2021 as well as the relaxations of its portfolio ICR covenants in the form of reduced covenant levels or waivers of the covenants, as the case may be.

Attacq’s requests were well received by the lenders with credit approval obtained for all debt maturities to be extended to beyond the 30th of September 2021 and for the relaxation of its portfolio ICR covenants for the 31st of December 2020 measurement period to be reported in March 2021. In line with Attacq’s focus to preserve liquidity in these uncertain times, Attacq agreed with its lenders to not declare a final distribution for the financial year ending on the 30th of June 2020 or an interim distribution for the six-month period ending on the 31st of December 2020.

Attacq’s capital structure, and in particular its group ICR, has been an area of continued focus, with Attacq’s group ICR improving to 1.91 times as reported in its 31st December 2019 results. The onset of Covid-19 will increase the focus on Attacq’s capital structure with the aim of achieving meaningful debt reductions by utilising the proceeds from the disposal of assets. It is worth noting that Attacq does not have any funded or guaranteed B-BBEE shareholding structures in place.

The South African portfolio

The property and asset management teams continue to proactively engage and assist individual tenants across the entire portfolio (retail, offices, industrial and hotels) to ensure the long-term sustainability of Attacq’s tenants. The overall occupancy rate remained consistent with a 0.2% decrease from 94.0% as at the 31st of December 2019 to 93.80% as at the 31st of May 2020. Unoccupied space at year end mainly relates to 2 Eglin, Brooklyn Bridge Office Park and The Ingress – building 2.

Collection of rentals is the key property fundamental. The quality and diversity of Attacq’s tenant base is evident from the collection rates achieved to date. Rentals are invoiced monthly in advance with rentals typically due on the first day of the month.

The table below provides the pre-COVID-19 March collections and the extent of relief granted for April, May and June 2020, as a percentage of rental:

The health and safety of Attacq’s shoppers and tenants remains their top priority. The company is aware of the need in their communities and have to date, through the Attacq Cares initiative, donated R574 064 in food parcels, reaching 4 138 families.

Developments at Waterfall

During the financial year eight buildings were completed in Waterfall with a total primary gross lettable area (“PGLA”) of 66 672m2 and an effective PGLA of 42 657m2 . There are currently four developments under construction, as detailed in the table below. All sites have reopened for development. The impact of COVID-19 on the practical completion and lease commencement dates has been assessed and programmes have been adjusted.

Investment in MAS Real Estate Inc (“MAS”)

For an update on the impact of COVID-19 on MAS’ business, please refer to the voluntary trading statement published by MAS on SENS on 27 May 2020 and available at www.masrei.com, wherein, inter alia, MAS informed its shareholders of its decision not to declare a final dividend for the six months ending 30 June 2020. This has been taken into account in managing Attacq’s liquidity position.

Rest of Africa retail investment

As at 31 December 2019, the Rest of Africa retail investment represented 2.2% of Attacq’s total gross assets. Attacq’s stated strategy is to exit this investment in an orderly fashion. Attacq does not have any debt against this investment and future proceeds will be utilised to reduce interest-bearing debt elsewhere in the group.

Progress is being made on the disposal of Ikeja City Mall, Nigeria. To improve alignment between the AttAfrica Limited (“AttAfrica”) shareholders, the minority shareholding in AttAfrica was acquired for a nominal consideration by Attacq and Hyprop Investments Limited. The rights in respect of the AttAfrica shareholder loans are now pari passu and Attacq has a 26.9% share of all cash flows. Shareholders expect to implement a portfolio-level debt refinance in the near future which should result in interest savings. COVID-19 lockdowns in Ghana (Accra Mall, West Hills Mall, Kumasi City Mall) and Nigeria (Ikeja City Mall) adversely impacted trade and foot count. The situation has started to improve with the easing of lockdowns in these countries.

Trading statement

Attacq has elected distribution per share (“DPS”) as its relevant measure of financial performance.

In terms of the JSE Listings Requirements, the company is required to publish a trading statement as soon as it is satisfied that a reasonable degree of certainty exists that the DPS for the period to be reported upon next will differ by at least 15% from that of the prior corresponding period.

Given the uncertainty regarding the economic outlook as a result of Covid-19, the need to preserve liquidity and ensure compliance with funding requirements, the board has resolved not to pay a final distribution for the year ending 30 June 2020 or an interim distribution for the six-month period ending 31 December 2020.

Consequently, Attacq will not be declaring a final distribution for the financial year ending 30 June 2020 and shareholders are advised that Attacq’s DPS will decline by 44.8% from the total DPS of 81.5 cents per share for the year ended 30 June 2019 (as reported) to 45.0 cents per share, being the interim distribution for the period ended 31 December 2019.

Notwithstanding the above, Attacq expects that it will satisfy the REIT requirements set out in the JSE Listings Requirements with regards to its year ending 30 June 2020. Attacq will update shareholders regarding its anticipated distributable earnings for the year ending 30 June 2020 in due course once a reasonable degree of certainty exists in this regard.

4 days 8 hours ago
Somers Govender, Principal Architect at Artek 4 Architects and AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Awards adjudicator, discusses the future of architecture and technology.

Somers Govender, Principal Architect at Artek 4 Architects and AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Awards adjudicator.

The global pandemic has forced society to adopt a new culture of remote working. To be successful in this, technologies affiliated with the fourth industrial revolution have been used and proven their worth, equipping countless industries with the necessary technological infrastructure to continue operating effectively and efficiently. Architects, designers and engineering professionals are particularly attuned with the possibilities that fourth industrial revolution technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and virtual reality (VR) present for their professions, not only in the easing processes, but presenting sustainable alternatives to conventional designs and methods.

Somers Govender, Principal Architect at Artek 4 Architects, explains that while technologies such as AI are being used more in the architecture space, it is unlikely they will replace architects anytime soon. “The creative cognitive ability that architects possess still trumps machine abilities for now,” he says. “That said, there are amazing programmes that enable architects to be more efficient through intricate calculations such as Building Information Modelling (BIM).”

The advent of 5G connectivity will allow countless machines, devices and infrastructure to connect to each other – a reality that Govender imagines will have a major impact on the manner in which architects and engineers plan road and parking structures, for example. “Modern architecture and city designs need to be receptive to such change,” he explains. “What we need is an adaptable architectural design that veers away from traditional static architecture, and gives way to a more purposeful attitude to recycling and sustainability.

5G connectivity will also enable instant sharing of information and a more dynamic level of accuracy, greatly reducing human error. If used wisely, architects can ensure their visions are more achievable and follow a more predictable path.” Govender says machine learning and technologies such as 3D printing are particularly useful and present opportunities for the manufacture of new components and materials that will enable previously inconceivable innovations. This presents architects with an opportunity to create materials that allow for improved structural safety, greater longevity, and the ability to be transformed customised, and recycled.

“Architects are starting to merge architecture with 3D printed formats. Today, we are capable of extruding concrete that enables the construction of structures of varying degrees of complexity,” he says. Further, 3D printed homes present a sustainable alternative to mass-scale housing construction projects, while 5G and other new technologies can enable power consumption and efficiencies that foster sustainability. Govender does however cite some concerns.

“South Africa is not quite there yet in achieving complete sustainability solutions, but with economies of scale, we can catch up quickly. The country is facing many challenges in trying to achieve sustainability goals, but with careful pre-planning and embracing 4IR technologies,  we could alleviate many of its problems, such as a shortage of housing. We need to start engaging with the technologies we are aware of, such as green energy generation, and perhaps with legislation the gradual phasing out of fossil-based fuel can be achieved as well.”

The current pandemic has placed a spotlight on the need to change the way things have been done, and Govender says this is particularly needed in the way architects plan projects. He suggests that architects should provision for the implementation of green power generation, as well as rain water harvesting initiatives for human consumption. “Municipal water could be pumped directly from reservoirs or other water sources with green energy on demand and only as the individual need arises. Aquaponics can deal with the filtering process and the by-product can be used to cultivate vegetables.”

An advocate for green initiatives and sustainability, Govender forms part of the adjudicating panel of the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Awards, which has Sustainable Architecture as one of the four categories that recognise as drivers of sustainability. Launched in 2009, the competition has grown into South Africa’s most prestigious sustainable design awards programme, drawing an exciting range of entries in sustainable architecture, and creating public awareness and debate on sustainability in the built environment.

While the current pandemic has meant that potential candidates may have been unable to enter, AfriSam has provisioned additional time, extending entry submissions to 3 July 2020. “Covid-19 has resulted in several disruptions and forced everyone to adopt new behaviors to address sustainability. The pandemic has truly highlighted the need for humanity to address sustainability in all aspects of our lives, and AfriSam’s role in showcasing this is evidence of its commitment to a better tomorrow,” concludes Govender.

The post FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES THE DRIVERS FOR A MORE SUSTAINABLE SOUTH AFRICA? appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

4 days 8 hours ago
The South African Professional Services Awards has named Kim Timm (Pr Eng), Executive – Structures, Buildings and Places at AECOM as Woman Professional of the Year for 2019/2020.

Kim Timm (Pr Eng), Executive – Structures, Buildings and Places at AECOM was named as Woman Professional of the Year for 2019/2020 at the recent South African Professional Services Awards.

The South African Professional Services Awards (SAPSA), sponsored by Sanlam and W. Consulting, has bestowed the title of Woman Professional of the Year for 2019/2020 on Kim Timm (Pr Eng), Executive – Structures, Buildings and Places at infrastructure delivery company AECOM.

Professionals from a wide range of companies were set to gather at a gala dinner in Montecasino Ballroom on the evening of 19 March. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SAPSA Awards were indefinitely postponed. The organisers subsequently undertook to progressively announce the winners for the 2019/2020 edition prior to hosting a future gathering for all finalists and guests.

This marks the fifth edition of the awards, following a rigorous process of determining winners based on strict criteria. Janette Minnaar, chair of the adjudication panel, explains how the winners were determined: “Individuals were judged based on a host of attributes, including demonstration of leadership skills, changing of paradigms and innovation within the bounds of available resources.” Timm has a BSc Eng (Civ) from the University of Cape Town and a MSc Eng (Civ) from the University of Stellenbosch. Describing herself as an all-rounder, she has worked on both heavy and light industrial, retail, commercial and residential projects.

“I enjoy the size and diversity of the projects and the teams we get to work with.” A recent flagship project for Timm was the challenging dolomitic ground conditions at the site of the new Lakeside head office in Centurion, Pretoria for resources company Exxaro. Here AECOM collaborated closely with AMA Architects to optimise the building design.

Timm has previously been recognised within her profession as a finalist for the Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Young Engineer of the Year Award in 2010. In 2019, she was recognised by CESA as Mentor of the Year. She recently co-authored two papers at an international conference in Nantes, France. Commenting on her mentoring role, she highlights: “I love seeing the passion and enthusiasm the candidates bring to the industry. It is highly rewarding to have the opportunity to help shape their careers and futures.

They challenge me to reassess my own views and opinions, and our relationship hence becomes a partnership that we all learn from.” Timm adds: “When I started working in this industry, I was frequently the only woman engineer that the contractors had ever met. This situation caused several early misunderstandings. I found that over time, as I became more experienced and more women joined the profession, it has become easier.

“There is definitely still bias around gender in the industry, and this will take time to change. I’ve always believed that the only way I will change the misconception that women don’t belong in engineering is to be the best engineer that I can possibly be. It makes it a lot harder for people to argue the point if you are living evidence that they are incorrect,” Timm concludes.

The post KIM TIMM FROM AECOM WINS SAPSA WOMAN PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.