November 12, 2018 / 4:56 PM / a month ago

South Africa's Brait first-half net asset value falls

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 12 (Reuters) - South African investment house Brait SE reported a fall in net asset value for the first half of its financial year, weighed down by a tough trading environment in both South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Brait, which also owns gym chain Virgin Active and British supermarket Iceland Foods, said on Monday its net asset value (NAV) was 336 million euros ($378 million), or 55.23 rand per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, down from 416 million euros, or 66.62 rand per share, in the same period a year ago.

NAV is a key performance measure for investment companies.

NAV per share was little changed from a restated 55.86 rand at the end of the company’s last financial year on March 31.

“Brait has performed in line with expectations with a broadly flat performance in a tough environment in both South Africa and the United Kingdom,” said Chairman Jabu Moleketi.

Brait has been under pressure as weak consumer demand and tough competition in Britain’s retail industry have weighed on fashion chain New Look, one of its biggest profit sources.

The firm slashed the carrying value of New Look to zero in November last year from 7.1 billion rand.

Brait said its focus for the next 18 months was to increase NAV per share via growth at Virgin Active, Premier and Iceland Foods and executing New Look’s turnaround strategy, as well as reducing debt and increasing cash flow.

$1 = 0.8894 euros Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Mark Potter

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