By Suren Naidoo
Melt Hamman – Attacq Limited’s long-time Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and acting CEO since late last year – has officially been appointed CEO of the JSE-listed property group.
His appointment, announced by the group last week, comes at a turning point for Attacq, which last month converted from a Capital Growth Fund to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). Hamman has been CFO of the group since before it listed on the JSE in October 2013, as South Africa’s first capital growth fund in the real estate sector.
With Hamman’s appointment to the top job, Raj Nana, has been appointed CFO and executive director. A qualified Chartered Accountant with investment banking and real estate experience, Nana joined Attacq as an Investment Officer in April 2014. The group also announced that its Chief Operating Officer, Jackie van Niekerk, has also been appointed as an Executive Director with immediate effect.
Hamman’s appointment adds leadership continuity for Attacq, especially as its flagship property development, Waterfall City in Gauteng, is gaining momentum as one of SA’s fastest growing nodes. Attacq is the master-developers of Waterfall City, which is home to the Mall of Africa. Besides van Niekerk and Nana’s addition to the executive team, Attacq also appointed Giles Pendleton has Head of Developments in March this year. Pendleton is seen as a big catch for Attacq, with his more than 22 years of global property industry experience and local knowledge, having been Managing Director of Development at Liberty Properties and Head of Property Development at Vukile Property Fund.
Attacq’s Board Chairperson, Pierre Tredoux, commented: “After a rigorous process we are delighted to permanently appoint Melt as the CEO. Melt has provided the team with clear direction and guidance as interim CEO, and has a strong history of creating and leading highly engaged teams. The Board believes that his track record with Attacq and extensive experience in the property sector positions him well to lead Attacq to the next level of growth and development as the company matures as a REIT.”
According to Attacq, when Hamman joined the company in June 2013, he was an integral part of the team that listed the company on the on 14 October 2013. “He has been instrumental in the growth of Attacq over the years and more specifically during the recent REIT conversion, effective 29 May 2018,” said Attacq.
Commenting on his new role, Hamman said: “I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Attacq team in our next phase as a REIT. Our strong leadership team remains focused on unlocking shareholders value by delivering on our 2018 maiden distribution and future distribution growth.”
Meanwhile, Attacq said Nana and Van Niekerk would fulfill a key role in the execution of Attacq’s revised strategy as key members of the group’s executive leadership team. Van Niekerk has over 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, and joined Attacq after her stint as CEO of Pivotal Property Fund, which was taken over by Redefine Properties in late 2016.
Confident in Attacq’s strong leadership, Tredoux said: “The recent conversion to a REIT was an important step to position Attacq for future growth. The Board is confident that the current leadership team have the ability to continue to add value for our shareholders through focusing on the Company’s four value drivers namely our quality South African portfolio, Waterfall development pipeline, investment in MAS Real Estate Inc., and retail investments in the rest of Africa.”
Commenting on its change to a last month REIT, Hamman said: “Our REIT conversion finalises our shift in focus from providing only capital growth to a focus on total return comprising sustainable income distributions as well as capital growth. We believe this strategy is a natural step given the progression in our business since listing in 2013.”
He added: “Our quality portfolio of South African income producing assets is underpinned by strong property fundamentals and with a gross asset base exceeding R28 billion as at 31 December 2017. We believe that Attacq will attract a broader investor base by converting to the widely understood REIT structure and by distributing earnings bi-annually.”
Part of Attacq’s unique value proposition is its remaining Waterfall developable bulk of approximately one million square metres, of which approximately 600 000 m² is already serviced and immediately available for the value accretive roll out of commercial, residential and industrial developments.
Attacq said it was targeting a maiden dividend payment of 73 cents per share, payable in October 2018, for the financial year ended 30 June 2018. It advised shareholders that the dividend met the requirements of a “qualifying distribution” for the purposes of section 25BB of the Income Tax Act, No. 58 of 1962 (“Income Tax Act”).