Lighthouse Capital in talks to acquire Iberian retail centre

Property group has shifted from owning stakes in infrastructure funds to owning real estate directly. 

Lighthouse Capital, which was previously part of the Resilient stable of companies, is in advanced talks to acquire a shopping centre in the Iberian region, according to a report by Business Day. It’s a move that will see it expand deeper into Western Europe.

It follows the likes of JSE-listed Vukile Property Fund, which first invested in Spain in 2017 and now has exposure to €1 billion (R16 billion) worth of real estate there.

Lighthouse, which already owns two centres in Portugal and one in Slovenia, did not reveal where the shopping centre it had made an offer for was situated, according to Business Day. 

Iberia includes Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Gibraltar and a small section of France. Lighthouse would not disclose the value of the potential deal. 

Lighthouse said it would raise additional capital through a rights offer, which was subject to “certain regulatory and exchange approvals”.

The Spanish and Portuguese economies have emerged late from the 2008/2009 recession and commercial property price crashes.

Portugal is often described as a winning story in the eurozone after embarking on deep austerity measures. It grew 2.8 percent in 2017 and 2.1 percent in 2018. Spain grew 2.9 percent in 2017 and 2.5 percent in 2018, as its commercial property market recovered and the tourism industry gained momentum. Spain was the second-most visited country last year, after France.

Lighthouse, which was formerly known as Greenbay, has shifted its strategy from investing in infrastructure funds and concessions to focus on holding property directly.

In May 2019 CEO Stephen Delport (pictured) said that during the six months to March, the company returned €600 million (about R9.8 billion) of capital to shareholders after exiting its investments in infrastructure assets and concessions.