Sunday, December 13, 2009

Africa popular as long-term comm. prop. destination

By Andrew Macdonald

LONDON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Commercial property experts are taking an increasingly positive view of Africa as a long-term investment destination, as it and other developing markets benefit from globalisation, a conference was told on Friday.

Three of four panellists featured in the annual Thomson Reuters (TRI.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) Global Property Outlook said they picked Africa as a investment destination for a pot of about $100 million over a 20-year period, or longer.

Bill Kistler, president of Urban Land Institute EMEA, said globalisation would help Africa eventually sort out many of the economic and demographic challenges it faces.

"There's great opportunity there. I'm not quite sure, however, in which sector, within real estate, to invest in," Kistler told the 150-strong audience at the conference.

"You'd have to be very unlucky to pick a reasonably stable country (in Africa) and miss (on making a return) over a 20-year horizon," he said.

Jana Sehnalova, director and portfolio manager at brokerage Forum Securities, said she would also pick Africa as an investment destination from a range of other emerging markets.

"I think you would go through a few heart attacks (by investing in Africa), but at the end you would probably have some sort of profit," she said.

Nick Axford, head of EMEA research at property consultant CB Richard Ellis (CBG.N: Quote, Profile, Research), said while he would invest in direct real estate in certain emerging markets, Africa was not at the top of his list.

"I absolutely buy the longer term story about Africa, but I don't think it's going to happen over the next 20 years, so I would be looking at India ... in terms of a combination of stability with growth," Axford said. (Editing by Andrew Macdonald and David Holmes)

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