SISA NGEBULANA, the founder and chief executive of Rebosis Property Fund, said yesterday that his work was done in sorting out the financial crises at the company and he was retiring with Otis Tshabalala selected as his successor to “steer the firm’s greater future”.
Ngebulana founded Rebosis in 2010, which became the first blackowned and managed property fund to list on the JSE.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of the company saying last week that it would dispose of its portfolio of office assets worth R6.3 billion, which would bring down the company loan-to-value (LTV) level and optimise its balance sheet to real estate investment trust standards, closing the curtain for Ngebulana’s three-year stint since the board brought him to stabilise the company.
In June 2017 Ngebulana announced he would leave his chief executive role at Rebosis at the end of September. He was replaced by Rebosis board member Andile Mazwai, who unexpectedly resigned in April 2018. Ngebulana then took up the position again.
At the time Rebosis was facing financial crises, which included asset write-downs of its UK assets precipitated by Britain’s decision to leave the EU, or Brexit, that caused a storm in the financial markets and investments, including assets write-downs.
Ngebulana said yesterday that following last week’s R6.3bn deal upon fulfilment of all conditions, shareholder voting and transfer of the properties, the company would now have a debt of nearly R3bn instead of R9.3bn, thus reduce the LTV to 42 percent, in line with best practice.
“I have sorted the financial crises and the assets write-down challenges that gave rise to high LTV. I have fulfilled the responsibilities requested by the board. It is time the company gets fresh hands to steer its greater future,” said Ngebulana.
On successful conclusion of the transaction, Rebosis would be repositioned as a retail focused fund valued at R7.5bn, comprising five dominant retail malls and four office/retail/other assets.
He said with an exceptional management team, hard-working and dedicated employees and key strategic investments, the company was well-positioned for continued momentum this year and beyond.
“I will remain a passive large shareholder as I continue to have confidence in the people, assets and future of the business,” he said.
Ngebulana said in these changing environments, every company faced challenges and Rebosis was no exception. “It has been a privilege to lead this company during the past three years. Initially the board gave me a one-year timeline to stabilise the company when it was facing financial challenges, more new challenges emerged as I started, which included massive asset write-downs as a result of Brexit uncertainty and local conditions.
“I focused the team on fundamentals and operational efficiencies, preserved cash resources through retaining dividends and restructuring debt through this period and as result, the company met all its financial obligations and generated surplus cash with all debt facilities renewed each year,” he said.
Dr Anna Mokgokong, Rebosis chairperson, said: “I personally and on behalf of the board express our heartfelt thanks to Sisa for the sterling work he has done in leading Rebosis’ journey, particularly during a challenging period in its history.
“The dedication and passion with which he fulfilled the company’s critical mandate is commendable. A clear strategy and sound action plans are in place and major projects to re-position the group are being completed, leaving the company in a position for growth for the future,” said Mokgokong.
The board said it had picked Otis Tshabalala as the next chief executive. With more than 28 years’ experience in the property sector, Otis was previously chief investment officer and chief operating officer of Delta and played an instrumental role in its listing before joining SA Corporate two years ago.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE