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UPDATE 3-South Africa's Shoprite and Equities Property fund form $273 mln JV

Stock MarketsFeb 25, 2020 14:07
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© Reuters. UPDATE 3-South Africa's Shoprite and Equities Property fund form $273 mln JV

* To transfer distribution centres, land to venture
* Annual headline earnings down 2.6%
* Group sales up 7%
* Reviewing operating model of Africa ops

(Adds Africa review, CEO quotes)
By Nqobile Dludla
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 25 (Reuters) - South Africa's Shoprite
Holdings SHPJ.J will transfer its distribution centres and
undeveloped land valued at 2 billion rand ($133 million) to a
new joint venture (JV) it is creating with Equities Property
Fund EQUJ.J , the supermarket chain said on Tuesday.
Shoprite, which has more than 2,800 stores across Africa,
has said it wants to divest some real estate to help its balance
Shoprite Checkers will contribute a portfolio of
distribution centres and associated undeveloped land in
Brackenfell in the Western Cape and Centurion in Gauteng into
the joint venture.
Equities Property will inject cash of 2.1 billion rand in
exchange for a 50.1% equity stake in the joint venture, the
retailer said.
Thereafter, the joint venture will acquire Shoprite's Cilmor
distribution centre in Cape Town and associated undeveloped land
for a cash amount of 1.2 billion rand.
"The joint venture company will manage the portfolio and it
will serve as a platform for the future development of the
undeveloped land situated at Cilmor and Centurion and for
possible future property acquisition and development
opportunities," Shoprite said.

Separately, the continent's top supermarket is reviewing its
long-term options in Africa, including an "alternate operating
model", group Chief Executive Officer Pieter Engelbrecht told
analysts at the retailer's half-year results.
"What we mean by that is yes we're looking at a possible
joint venture, a franchise model, different formats. We are
reviewing all of the options," he said.
Immediate steps Shoprite has taken include rent reductions
in 17 supermarkets, with negotiations of 16 more underway. It
has also switched some of the rent and borrowings from U.S.
dollars to local currency.
It is also assessing the viability of unprofitable stores
and curbing capital allocation for new stores and developments,
Engelbrecht added.
Shoprite will therefore only have opened 13 supermarkets for
the full year ended June compared to a target of 17.
"We're still committed to the continent but not at all cost.
We're fairly confident that these immediate operational actions
will lead to an improved financial performance in this segment
(non-South Africa)," Engelbrecht said.
Shoprite disappointed the market in early 2019 when it
announced its first drop in first-half earnings in a decade due
to currency devaluations, supply issues and low consumer
spending in Angola, Nigeria and Zambia.
Those devaluations continued in the 26 weeks ended Dec. 29,
hitting diluted headline earnings per share (HEPS), which fell
by 2.6% to 372.4 cents in the period from 382.4 cents a year
Sales in rand terms in the group's international operations,
comprising 14 African countries, fell by 3.1%. In constant
currency terms, sales rose 4.8%.
The retailer's core business, Supermarkets South Africa, saw
an acceleration in sales, with overall growth of 9.8% versus
7.4% in the second half.

($1 = 14.9945 rand)

UPDATE 3-South Africa's Shoprite and Equities Property fund form $273 mln JV

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