BY Taurai Mangudhla

ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed property firm Zimbabwe Property Investments Limited (ZPI) has bemoaned the currency volatility which has seen the company losing value through discounting US rentals, coupled with a deteriorating exchange rate in the first half of 2020.

In its condensed audited financial results for the half year ended June 30, ZPI said investment properties were valued at $2,25 billion by independent valuers Knight Frank as at June 30 2020, representing a 75% increase from December 2019. However, in US dollar terms, the portfolio value declined.

“The decline is reflective of the discount on portfolio rental income in US$ terms and the deteriorating exchange rate. Despite the regular reviews, the depreciating exchange rate and hyperinflation negatively affected portfolio incomes and hence fair values,” chairman Jean Manguranyanga said in the statement.

Notwithstanding the challenges, Maguranyanga said, the investment property portfolio performed well with rentals remaining resilient in the face of mounting pressure on rates.

“Rental income was boosted by regular upward reviews and improved rental turnover on retail space. Month-on-month rent collection averaged 100% for the period under review, a decent performance considering the challenging operating environment,” she said.

Maguranyanga said the average portfolio vacancy rate, however, marginally worsened to 23% from 22% over the reporting period with the Harare central business district office, Bulawayo CBD office and the Gweru industrial facility recording the highest void rates.

In terms of the financial performance, Maguranyanga said the company realised a profit for the half year of $946,67 million, up from $580,67 million in the same period last year despite total revenues having declined by 29% to 27,06 million. This was after a fair value adjustment of $963,03 million.

Rental income grew by 27% to $24,21 million from $19,05 million attained in the corresponding period in 2019.

“Projects income significantly declined during the half year mainly as a result of the COVID-19-induced lockdown which restricted marketing of stands and movement of potential purchasers. Sales amounted to $2,38 million, down from $18,13 million achieved in the previous half year, an 87% decline,” Maguranyanga said.

“Cost control measures were adopted throughout the reporting period. As a result, total administration costs were $19,96 million compared to $21,75 million the previous half year.”

The ZPI chair said the commercial real estate sales market had been dormant as investors were not prepared to sell in local currency. Sales on the market, albeit at a slow pace because of liquidity challenges, are mostly of residential properties.

Going forward, ZPI believes that the future is in collaborative as well as a syndicated development approaches.

“A number of potentially game-changing projects are being pursued with companies where there are common shareholders. I look forward to breaking ground for cluster developments in Harare and Victoria Falls Lodge. The official opening ceremony of Sawanga Shopping Mall in Victoria Falls is also planned for the fourth quarter,” Maguranyanga revealed.

At the end of September, Zimre Holdings Limited shareholders approved the acquisition of the National Social Security Authority’s 35,09% stake in Fidelity Life Assurance and the acquisition of the entire shareholding in ZPI in a transaction that will see ZPI delisting from the ZSE.

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