Casablanca – Morocco, March 07, 2017 –
Shareholders of leading real estate developers in Morocco, Vecteur LV (VLV) and Petra, have approved the merger of the two entities leading to the creation of a new commercial real estate platform.
As a result of the merger, the combined portfolio now includes 27 assets across 15 cities in the Kingdom, making up nearly 200,000 square meters of rental space and almost 400 retail leases.
VLV is a subsidiary of Label’Vie, a leading food retailer, listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, and the exclusive Carrefour franchisee in Morocco. VLV has been used by Label’Vie as its real estate platform to develop its supermarkets and the associated retail galleries. Petra which is owned by Best Financiere and Sanam Holding, is a pioneering commercial real estate developer and owner of a diversified portfolio of retail assets in the Kingdom with 3 shopping centers and 4 shopping galleries located across major cities.
The newly-forged real estate platform is set to become the first REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) in Morocco (Organisme de Placement Collectif en Immobilier – “OPCI”) with the legal and regulatory framework almost in place. REITs are expected to drive the future growth and expansion of the commercial real estate sector in Morocco. The retail sector in particular is growing steadily with competition intensifying, urbanization levels increasing and purchasing power rising.
Zouhair Bennani, Label’Vie’s and Best Financiere’s Chairman, said: “I am pleased to announce that the shareholders of Petra and VLV have taken this important decision. The resulting real estate platform is now set to start a new era of expansion and our role, alongside our partners, will be to support this new entity in its path to become a major real estate vehicle and contribute to the development of the REIT industry in Morocco and regionally.”
Said El Alj, Sanam Holding’s Chairman, said: “We are delighted to be part of this investment with quality partners and teams. This merger will allow us to seed an investment platform in the commercial real estate in a similar way that we have been able to boost several other industries in the country.”
In 2015, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) acquired an equity stake of 45 million Euros in VLV to support not only the expansion of the retail sector in Morocco but also to promote the introduction of a Moroccan REIT environment. This capital increase was accompanied by the introduction of new governance for VLV and entering into an asset management agreement with REIM Partners, an independent Moroccan asset manager.
Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, EBRD Director for Morocco said: “Our investment in VLV demonstrates our strategy in promoting innovative financing structures and capital market development in Morocco. We are highly supportive of the merger, which will lead to a breakthrough into the REIT environment. The new platform will also contribute to the development of a modern retail infrastructure in the country, particularly in the regions.”
Nawfal Bendefa, CEO of REIM Partners said: “Our vision is to deliver a stable yield from a diversified portfolio of real estate assets and through active asset management, further development as well as further fund raising. We will work with our investors on the appropriate capital strategy to ensure growth and access to liquidity for this new market segment in Morocco.”
The merged platform has all the necessary attributes for the creation of a leading REIT, namely, the size, the quality and stability of return, asset diversification and an independent manager.
The platform’s property management services will be provided by Petra Management, an internal development, property and facility management service provider.
The EBRD, owned by 65 countries and two intergovernmental institutions, is supporting the development of market economies and democracies. The Bank has been investing in Morocco since 2012. To date, the Bank has invested about €1.2 billion in more than 30 projects across the country. The EBRD has also provided technical assistance support to more than 300 local SMEs (small and medium enterprises).
Label’Vie is a leading food retailer in Morocco with a market share of ca. 30%, and is the exclusive franchisee of Carrefour. Label’Vie is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange and operates a gross leasable area of 169,000 sqm in 23 cities, through 71 stores under three distinct brands (Carrefour Market supermarkets, Carrefour hypermarkets, and Atacadao hypercash stores).
Sanam Holding is a Moroccan conglomerate founded in 1986, operating in various sectors: food processing, distribution, tourism, insurance, real estate and film industry. The company controls more than 65 subsidiaries in Morocco and abroad (England, China, Spain, France, Mauritania, Monaco, Peru, United States), and employs more than 7,000 employees. Sanam Holding has 5 companies listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange.
Best Financiere is a diversified investment company founded in 1985, operating in the food retail (master franchisor in Morocco of Carrefour, Carrefour Market, Atacadao), retail (master franchises in Morocco of Kiabi, Burger King and Virgin Megastore), medical equipment distribution (through a partnership with Philips Healthcare) and the audiovisual sector.
REIM Partners is an independent Moroccan asset manager with an experienced team across all facets of the real estate industry including asset management, deal sourcing and underwriting, development, leasing and finance. The team, based in Casablanca, has a proven execution track record in Morocco. VLV entered into an investment management mandate in 2015 with REIM Partners, with the objectives of maximizing the real estate value through development and active asset management activities. REIM Partners acted as the exclusive structuring agent of the merger.