Mara Delta (originally Delta Africa) is the largest pan-African-focused real estate fund listed on both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (code: MDP) and Stock Exchange of Mauritius (code: DEL.N0000).

The company focuses exclusively on real estate assets on the African continent (excluding South Africa), underpinned by US dollar-denominated long-term leases with high-quality tenants, delivering strong sustainable income and offering investors exposure to US dollar-yields.

Following its merger with Mara Diversified Property Holdings, the company manages in excess of US$467 million worth of assets with a US$500 million property pipeline identified, including brownfield and greenfield developments as well as completed quality properties. 

Mara Delta’s current asset base is located in Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia – with further pipeline assets and opportunities identified in these jurisdictions as well as in Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana.

The company is promoted by Pivotal, Delta, the Mara Group, Carlisle Property Holdings and Abland Africa – each of which provide an unrivalled blend of commercial experience and expertise in Africa.

Mara Delta has established solid relationships with various banks and development finance institutions

‘When we decided to switch our offshore domicile to Mauritius, we gained several unanticipated advantages,’ says Bronwyn Corbett, Mara Delta’s chief executive.

She mentions the depth of domestic investment capacity, citing more than 35 investor groups attending their recent financial results presentation. Mara Delta’s head office is in Grand Baie, Mauritius and its management team (consisting of South African, Moroccan, Mozambican, Kenyan and Mauritian nationals) has a combined experience on the continent exceeding 45 years.

According to Corbett, Mauritius has done much to position itself as the business gateway to Africa, creating an ecosystem for global business – thanks to conducive legal and regulatory frameworks, as well as favourable tax treaties with many African countries.

Over the past two decades, Mauritius’ role as a financial centre has grown significantly, mainly as a result of its historical links with India. However, Mara Delta has been part of a second, Africa-focused wave on which Mauritius is keen to capitalise.

With airlines increasingly opening new routes via the island country, doing business on the continent is becoming more and more seamless.

Given the rapid rate of urbanisation, burgeoning middle classes and being home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Africa is increasingly recognised by international capital as the last frontier for real growth.

Real estate on the continent is particularly under-represented outside of South Africa, and developers are now responding to the strong demand for modern shopping malls, offices and hotels.

Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that the stock of ‘grade A’ shopping malls across Africa (bar South Africa) is less than 1.5 million m2. That’s barely equivalent to the stock of Hungary, a nation of 10 million people compared to Africa’s 1 billion.

Investing into a frontier market, however, is not without risks, as many of these countries are exposed to fluctuations in commodity markets, as well as severe exchange volatility against hard currencies.

‘The economies of Mozambique and Zambia, just like Nigeria and many other natural resource-rich African countries have been impacted by the fall in oil and commodity prices,’ says Corbett.

‘This has not had a significant effect on Mara Delta’s retail investments there. You can see all these macro-economic challenges but we are not necessarily feeling it on the ground from a real estate perspective.

‘This is largely as a result of our retail offering dominating in their respective areas, and the fact that these centres do not cater for luxury goods or discretionary spending – our customers frequent these centres for their daily living essentials,’ she says.

Recently, there has been a surge in demand for modern shopping malls, offices and hotels across the continent

The majority of Mara Delta’s leases are dollar denominated and underpinned by strong, international anchor tenants, further mitigating against these risks.

‘In addition, we are busy dealing with the global insurance market to take out cover against currency inconvertibility and non-transfer cover in Morocco and Mozambique.

‘We carefully manage the flow of funds through our liquidity facilities in Mauritius and pay particular attention to the cash flow surrounding investments and the strength of counter parties (tenants).

‘This places us in a strong position to deal with currency depreciation and liquidity issues.’

Apart from its investment criteria shielding its income flow, Mara Delta has access to a development pipeline, providing further yield accretive opportunities.

‘One way in which we are able to mitigate against a number of these risks is to ensure that we have good quality tenants already in place before we even start construction. This isn’t easy, but it is critical to our business. Currently, around 97% of our properties have tenants guaranteed,’ says Corbett.

‘Despite the associated risks, Africa is still home to good economic and demographic growth, and long-term investors are keen to be part of this. The real estate sector can give them exposure to these long-term fundamentals,’ according to Corbett.

Mara Delta’s immediate strategy is to consolidate opportunities within current countries of operation before expanding into other geographies. It enjoys strong support from a number of large pension funds, development finance institutions, banks and private equity funds, increasingly attracting capital from the Far East.

The company recently announced the conclusion of a US$77 million funding facility from the Bank of China at favourable US dollar LIBOR-plus rates. Mara Delta is aiming for a fund size of US$2 billion in the next five years, and is currently raising equity to fund its growth ambitions.


Moira van der Westhuizen: chief integration officer
Email: [email protected]
Tel: +230 650 4030
3rd Floor, La Croisette, Grand Baie, Mauritius