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Tap top property minds at SAPOA conference

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15 Apr 2010

Tapping the minds of South Africa’s commercial and industrial property heavyweights is a very rare opportunity, and even more so as the world – along with SA’s property companies – emerges from a widespread, multi-sector recession.

Still, it’s a chance that delegates at the 42nd annual SAPOA Convention & Property Exhibition, sponsored by Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, in May this year will be able to seize when five of the best brains in the business square off in what promises to be a compelling insight into the core strategies of SA's major property players in 2010.

The surprise, however, lies in just how diverse those core strategies are expected to be.

On the first day of the Convention, SAPOA will present Growthpoint Properties CEO Norbert Sasse; Redefine managing executive Mike Flax; JHI CEO Marna van der Walt; Liberty Properties CEO Samuel Ogbu; and Frank Berkeley, managing executive of Nedbank Corporate Property Finance in a panel discussion entitled: Think Beyond - Discover the Potential.

SAPOA CEO Neil Gopal says the convention provides a crucial platform to discover how captains of the property industry are tackling these new and emerging challenges.

"We believe it's critical for the convention to provide a platform for property practitioners to think, debate and reflect on a wide range of topics, even beyond property itself."

While some property experts believe that 2010 is a time to consolidate, others believe it's a time to do the opposite and acquire new properties.

Growthpoint Properties Limited, for instance, expanded its geographic reach with the acquisition of a majority stake in an Australian property trust, renamed Growthpoint Properties Australia.

Says CEO Norbert Sasse: “We’re carefully positioning Growthpoint for the upswing in property market fundamentals that we believe will be evident in 2011.”

Redefine’s Mike Flax, points to shrewd acquisition decisions and expanding it’s international exposure as priorities for the current year.

"Redefine is actively looking to acquire larger properties, because we believe the timing is right to take advantage of distressed sellers and bankers," says Flax.

"Another goal in 2010 is to continue with our internationalisation through Redefine's European subsidiary Ciref plc."

JHI's Van der Walt believes that 2010 is a time for prudence, staying in the game and creating value for stakeholders. Her strategy will focus on delivering quality space at affordable rentals.

One area where there is a high level of consensus, however, is the need to manage cashflow. It's what Van der Walt calls getting back to the property basics and includes proactively dealing with vacancies and defaulting tenants - risks that she believes will still be evident for a while to come.

Panel discussions at the convention are expected to spotlight a growing acknowledgement of how local property is increasingly affected by both global trends and dynamics in multiple economic sectors.

“Having your strategy right is the most important step any business can take in the current climate,” says Frank Berkeley, managing executive of Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, adding that SA is not out of the woods yet.

Plus, as author and convention speaker Steuart Pennington adds, this year will place SA on the global map like never before.

"The World Cup is just the start. We need to understand the medium- to long-term spin-offs of massive investment - like infrastructure - for our economy."

Sponsored by Nedbank Corporate Property Finance, the 42nd annual SAPOA International Convention & Property Exhibition will take place at Sun City from 12-14 May 2010.

For more information, please visit: www.sapoaconvention.co.za

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