**Africa Property Development Fund**
Liberty’s asset manager Stanlib believes that there was an opportunity to meet the needs of African and international investors seeking greater exposure to real estate on the continent, BDLive said. The African Direct Property Development Fund would offer investors commercial retail property opportunities, with the minimum commitment to the fund set at $1 million (£655,000). Liberty, which is 53.6 percent owned by Standard Bank, is targeting a fund size of $150 million, whereas the fund is expected to have an internal rate of return of 25 percent.
**Focus on Kenya, Nigeria**
In March, the chief investment officer of Stanlib Direct Property Investments, Amelia Beattie, said that the fund would target new retail developments in Nigeria and Kenya, where there was still an undersupply of quality retail properties.
BDLive reported that the African Direct Property Development Fund had earmarked between six and eight developments in Nigeria and Kenya over eight years, and would seek to include South African retailers.
**Property Funds Increasingly Popular in Africa**
Property investments have been on the rise on the African continent, most notably in South Africa which saw a wave of listings of property funds over the past year and a half. The combined market capitalisation of local listed real estate funds increased from about five billion rand (£3.53 billion) in 2000 to more than 200 billion rand (£141 billion) at the end of 2012, with one of the reasons being the average return of 26 percent a year, BDLive said earlier.
!m[Liberty Holdings](/uploads/story/1941/thumbs/liberty-holdings-n-265_inline.jpg) Norbert Sasse, chief investment officer of Johannesburg-listed property investment holding company Growthpoint Properties (JSE:GRT), is expecting plenty of new listings as long as interest rates remained at their current level. “We saw six or seven new listings last year and I would expect to see another half a dozen this year,” he said.
Property funds and real estate investment trusts (REITs) are likely to gain more popularity in Kenya as well. Reuters reported earlier this month that Kenya-based private equity firm Catalyst Principal Partners was starting to make investments from a broad $125 million fund and from a partnership dedicated to real estate, targeting demand from East Africa’s growing middle class. Demand for middle class homes and other housing in East Africa has topped supply for decades and the sector has outperformed other asset classes such as stocks and fixed income.