Mall of Africa owner Attacq cuts its dividend forecast due to weak economy

CEO Melt Hamman points to SA’s weak economy as the reason for slow disposals and development of some of its projects

Mall of Africa owner Attacq may have experienced better-than-expected trading numbers for the year to June but it has had to slash its dividend growth forecast for the next two years due to a worsening economy.

Attacq rewarded investors with a maiden dividend of 74c per share for the year to June, which was in line with expectations, but like many of its peers it fears a difficult 2019 and 2020. In February it said it expected its dividends to grow 20% for both its 2019 and 2020 financial years. But these were revised down to 7.5%-9.5% for 2019 and 13%-15% for 2020.

CEO Melt Hamman said a weak economy had made it difficult for the group to dispose of noncore assets and had slowed the development of some of its projects. It had also received lower-than-expected distributions from its investment in European property owner MAS Real Estate, as well as lower-than-expected cash receipts of interest on shareholder loans from its retail investments in the rest of Africa.

The developer and primary owner of the Waterfall City precinct paid the first dividend in its history in the year to June.

After listing nearly five years ago as a development company, Attacq converted to an income-paying real estate investment trust in May. The group felt this would appeal to investors who were eager to receive dividends from its assets.

Its share price has not met the expectations of many fund managers since it listed in October 2013. It was flat at R15.50 on Tuesday and nearly 9% lower than its listing price of R17.

Keillen Ndlovu, head of listed property funds at Stanlib, said that Attacq had “delivered one of the most pleasing sets of results this season” and that its dividend growth was still better than that of its peers.

“The key asset, Mall of Africa, seems to be picking up and trading better than market expectations. Management met their 2018 financial year distribution guidance and the distribution growth outlook is still good despite being revised downwards,” he said.