R10bn Waterfront sale denied
Local property investors said to be involved in consortium
THE COMPANIES said to be involved in the purchase for R10 billion of one of the country’s most sought-after properties, the V&A Waterfront, have denied any involvement.
Yesterday the Mail & Guardian website reported that a consortium including property manager Growthpoint, banking giant Absa and the Public Investment Corporation had bought the tourist destination.
The site quoted two people who had apparently been briefed on the transaction. One of the two said: “The deal has been under discussion for ages, but it was signed off today (Friday)”.
A second source said the paperwork would probably be finalised by Monday. The sellers were London-based property moguls Ian and Richard Livingstone through their London and Regional Properties, along with the Emirati investment firm Dubai World.
“The Livingstones are taking cash, and Dubai World is taking a mixture of cash and shares,” said the report.
But last night Growthpoint denied it was involved. The company’s executive director Estienne de Klerk said the article published on the Mail & Guardian’s website was “untrue”.
“We’re distancing ourselves from that article,” he said. “We’re not aware of a transaction; that’s our position on the matter. If a transaction is finalised in which Growthpoint is involved, it will proactively communicate that with the media.”
Absa head of commercial property finance, Mike Mortimer, said he was not sure where the information came from. They had always been involved as financers of the Waterfront but were not part of any consortium to buy it.
Shaun Rai, executive chairman of Cape Empowerment Trust Ltd, a BEE consortium, said it had not been informed of the sale. But he said if the Waterfront had been sold, it was not a surprise as rumours had been rife recently.
The names of all three companies – Growthpoint, Absa and the Public Investment Corporation – had been thrown around as possible buyers.
“Loads of rumours have been going around, so we know there is a good possibility that the Waterfront may become available soon,” he said.
The V&A Waterfront ranks as South Africa’s number one tourist destination, and it is almost certainly the country’s single most valuable piece of real estate. It was controversially privatised in September 2006 by Transnet, which sold the site for R7 billion. Empowerment partners in the transaction included Hassan Adams, a close associate of then-Wester n Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool, who told the Mail & Guardian he had not been informed of any sale. “No one informed us. Honestly, I don’t know where this comes from. Is this a hoax?”
The Mail & Guardian website reported that the relation- ship between Adams and Rasool and Dubai World’s subsequent efforts to buy the adjacent Somerset Hospital complex from the provincial government, ensured that the transaction was dogged by controversy. At the time Cosatu said it amounted to “selling off the family silver”.
Tensions between the Livingstones and Dubai World were constantly rumoured following the purchase, with clashes over the scale and pace of new investment at the complex regularly alluded to by Waterfront insiders. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com