Kuwaiti leisure group lists on JSE

7 March 2006

Kuwait-based IFA Hotels & Resorts, the single largest foreign investor in KwaZulu-Natal tourism to date, has given South Africa’s economy another boost, reverse-listing two SA subsidiaries onto the JSE main board under the banner IFA Hotels & Resorts Limited (IFAHR SA).

IFAHR SA’s share debuted on 27 February at R4.50, giving the company a total market cap on listing of just under R1-billion. IFAHR Kuwait, listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange with a market cap of over US$1-billion, is a developer of premier leisure hotels and mixed-use resorts worldwide.

Through its two subsidiaries, IFAHR SA now owns the exclusive Zimbali Lodge on KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, rated by Cond Naste as one of the world’s top hotels, and a 50% stake in the multi-million rand Zimbali Coastal Resort.

The Zimbali integrated resort project – jointly developed with Moreland Developments, which indirectly owns the remaining 50% interest – offers hotels, luxury residences, golf courses and leisure facilities.

The rapid take-up of properties has prompted the joint venture to develop a 300ha extension, Zimbali Lakes, which will include a Gary Player signature golf course.

‘Ideal investment opportunity’
IFAHR SA CEO Talal Al-Bahar, who is also chairman and MD of IFAHR Kuwait, says South Africa has emerged as an ideal investment opportunity in light of positive economic factors and an untapped property asset base.

“Our multi-million rand investment in SA property development reflects our confidence in the economy given the low interest rate regime, strict regulatory controls and economic stability,” Al-Bahar said in a statement.

He described the group’s listing on the JSE as a natural progression in its investment strategy in the country, adding that it would serve as a platform for IFAHR SA to enhance its profile.

“Foreign shareholders of the global IFAHR group have expressed keen interest in participating in the luxury developments in South Africa,” Al-Bahar said. “The listing will enable these investors to gain exposure to high quality SA property assets, backed by the group’s track record and expertise in resort development.”

Eyeing World Cup 2010
IFAHR SA’s executive director of acquisitions and developments, Phillip de Sylva, says that the Zimbali developments’ promising prospects were supported by the King Shaka airport, soon to be completed between Zimbali and Durban.

“The new Zimbali Lakes will be substantially complete in time for the 2010 World Cup to benefit from the expected tourism influx,” De Sylva added.

De Sylva said that IFAHR SA was also pursuing new integrated resort developments in SA and across Africa and the Indian Ocean region, adding that the leisure developer “may look to expand its portfolio strategically into other property sectors, such as retail”.

According to De Sylva, IFAHR SA’s developments have created more than 87 000 jobs in KwaZulu-Natal, with an anticipated 43 000 to 85 000 new jobs to be generated by the Zimbali Lakes development.

SouthAfrica.info reporter