Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

INVESTEC Property Fund on Thursday posted a 7.1% increase in its interim dividend to 46.83c per unit for the six months to September. The increase was the result of a strong focus on tenant retention, renewals of leases on expiry, marketing of vacant space and the addition of yield-enhancing properties to the portfolio.

CEO Sam Leon said the company was now in a "comfortable" position with low gearing of 11% coupled with an increasing asset base.

"We are comfortable with the performance due to our solid portfolio. The focus for us has been on managing our assets and retaining our clients by keeping them happy," Mr Leon said.

He said the focus had been on constantly maintaining the company’s properties by effectively managing assets through allowances and new lettings.

Mr Leon said there was reasonable demand for "good" quality industrial space.

"We are nicely positioned to take advantage of our overall portfolio after enhancing our portfolio with retail assets. Although low gearing gives us enough room to acquire more assets this also represents a challenge in getting good quality assets," he said.

The next focus for Investec Property Fund was bedding down acquisitions worth R2bn it had made recently, which had not been included in the six months to September results.

The company successfully raised R1.5bn through a rights offer to existing unitholders, the proceeds of which would be used to part settle the consideration payable for the acquisitions.

"We are constantly on a look out, but we are particular about the assets we want to acquire."

The property portfolio reported a 3.3% vacancy factor, representing a marginal increase from the 2.7% vacancy level at the end of March.

But Mr Leon said the vacancy percentage increase related mainly to one office tenant vacating a building.

Excluding this effect, the remainder of the portfolio showed a vacancy rate at the end of the period of 1.8%, with industrial vacancies reducing from 4.1% to 2.6%.

The company expected a marginal uptick in vacancy rates in this sector in the second half of the year.