June 10, 2020 / 10:54 AM / a month ago

S.Africa mall operator Hyprop says seeing pick up in rent collections

JOHANNESBURG, June 10 (Reuters) - South African shopping mall operator Hyprop Investments said on Wednesday that rent collections were increasing as outlets reopened and customers slowly start returning after more than two-months of lockdown.

Non-food brick-and-mortar retailers are among the worst hit by a government order to close all stores in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The country’s oldest department store chain operator Edcon entered into bankruptcy protection in April.

Retailers were allowed to resume operations from May 1 but footfall is still significant down.

“Rent collections are improving as these negotiations are concluded with individual tenants and should return to normal levels once all are finalised,” Hyprop said in a statement.

Hyprop collected 43.6% of rent for April and 54.6% for May.

The company, which owns upmarket Hyde Park Corner mall and Rosebank mall in Johannesburg, said it is currently in talks with 86 of its national and larger retailer groups in South Africa and has concluded negotiations with 37% of these.

Its liquidity is strong and it has 1.6 billion rand ($96.22 million) in available cash resources, it said.

Hyprop, which counts Edcon as one of its tenants, said it has 47,762 square meters of exposure to the company, or 6.7% of its gross leasable area in South Africa.

Edcon’s administrators have identified about 1,360 square meters of that as non-viable space, it said.

“We have leasing strategies in place for this space as well as for any additional vacancies resulting from the business rescue process,” Hyprop said.

The administrators have proposed selling parts or all of Edcon, with 15 suitors interested in its assets.

$1 = 16.6289 rand Reporting by Nqobile Dludla Editing by Promit Mukherjee, Kirsten Donovan

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