London and Dubai win US$ 1 billion race to acquire South Africa’s most-visited property, leisure & retail development

Published September 24th, 2006 - 05:20 GMT

Dubai-based Istithmar & UK-based London & Regional Properties have won the race for South Africa’s most-visited property and leisure development, as they confirmed that their joint venture had successfully bid US$ 1 billion for the V&A Waterfront Company. 


The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town is a mixed-use prime waterfront real estate development in which shopping and entertainment venues are intermingled with office locations, world-class hotels and luxury apartments in the residential marina and active fishing port.   Its leading hotels include Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel and The Cape Grace.  Established by South African Government-owned Transnet in 1988, V&A Waterfront now attracts more than 22 million visitors a year, making it Africa’s number one property, leisure and retail development.


Transnet announced plans three months ago for the sale of V&A Waterfront Company, which owns the development, and more than 60 South African and international companies have taken part in the bidding process.  A shortlist of nine companies and consortia were evaluated in the final round.


The successful bid came from a joint venture consisting of Dubai World’s investment company Istithmar, leading UK-based pan-European property company London & Regional Properties, and a number of South African Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (“BEE”) investors. 


The sale was concluded with signed agreements between the parties and announced at a press conference in Cape Town.


Ms Maria Ramos, Group CE of Transnet Ltd and the V&A linked unitholders’ spokesperson, said:


"This transaction is a major vote of confidence in our economy by international investors. As linked unitholders, we are glad to be able to exit in favour of a consortium that has real prospects of unlocking further value in this prime national asset, whilst bringing with it skills and proven expertise."


Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of the Board of Istithmar and Chairman of Istithmar’s parent company Dubai World, said:


“We are tremendously excited to be involved in this project.  With our partners at London & Regional Properties and the local black empowerment consortium, we have an exciting and dynamic group to move this project to the next level. 


“We are involved in real estate developments across the globe but there are few places which offer such potential as Cape Town’s waterfront.


“The global trend towards waterfront living – seen nowhere more clearly than in the popularity of The Palm and our other developments in Dubai – has another world-class destination in Cape Town, at the V&A Waterfront.


“The Cape Town Waterfront will be promoted and marketed alongside our iconic projects in Dubai such as the three Palm Islands, Dubai Waterfront, and The World islands.  We believe that this added marketing synergy and expanded international exposure will drive up values at the Cape Town Waterfront.”


Richard Livingston, Director of London & Regional Properties, said:


“The V&A Waterfront has everything we look for in an investment: strong assets, a healthy balance sheet, a successful management team and good day-to-day operations combined with a strong vision for the future. 


“But most importantly, it offers opportunity.  It sits in a magnificent location with significant allowable development, giving us the chance to create a truly world-class resort, which can be a focal point for the FIFA World Cup 2010.


“The existing waterfront development consistently attracts a high volume of tourists annually and our proposed enhancement of this exceptionally unique location will further the growth of Cape Town as a leading lifestyle destination.


“I am delighted we have been able to work with such strong partners in delivering the winning bid for this exciting project.”


Mr Hassen Adams, a leading Cape Town business man and member of the joint venture’s black economic empowerment consortium, said:


“This was a knockout bid, bringing together an incredibly strong mix of South African and international skills into one team.  We are particularly pleased to have found partners in Istithmar and London & Regional Properties which share our ambitious long-term vision for the project.


Arthur Mashiatshidi, Chairman of Decorum Investment Holdings, said:


“We are delighted to be associated with such high profile, successful and committed investors. We are particularly pleased to be able to play a leading role in the future development of South Africa’s leading tourism destination.”


Istithmar confirmed that subsidiary company Nakheel Hotels and Resorts will play a leading role with London & Regional to manage the current assets at V&A Waterfront, and masterplan the future development of the property.


James Wilson, CEO of Nakheel Hotels and Resorts, said:


“The V&A Waterfront is already a highly successful project, attracting more visitors than any other South African destination.  Our vision is to take that development a step further, creating a resort destination which is a world-leading shopping, leisure riviera and business destination. As developers of 1,500 km of waterfront property in Dubai we are uniquely positioned to assist in this process.


“We look forward to working with the existing management team and staff to take the V&A Waterfront to this next level. As our initial task, we intend to engage fully with the stakeholders in the Waterfront, including the local community, the Mayor’s office, the Premier’s office, fishing and port businesses, existing tenants and the FIFA World Cup 2010 organisers.


“Following on from this, we will review the master plan with the intention of entrenching the Waterfront as an integrated iconic development that meets with the long term needs of the community and stakeholders, while ensuring that the Waterfront links seamlessly to the CBD and the new stadium.


“We will further be partnering with world-class lifestyle brands and visionaries to increase the equity and value proposition of the Waterfront by positioning it as a high-end diverse upscale waterfront development. We are already in discussions with a number of international and regional luxury hotel and retail companies.”


The V&A Waterfront contains 603,000 square metres of approved bulk development rights, of which 45 per cent remains to be developed.  James Wilson said that the partners would announce details of its future development plans over the coming months but confirmed that a great deal of strategic planning had already been done.


He said:


“As you would expect, we have ambitious and exciting plans for V&A Waterfront, involving world-class partners at all levels.”


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