Acorn Investment Management Limited (AIML), the ASA REITs Manager which is a subsidiary of Acorn Holdings Limited, the entity behind the Qwetu and Qejani Student Residences, has announced a combined net profit of KES 283 million for the Acorn Student Accommodation Income REIT (ASA I-REIT) and the Acorn Student Accommodation Development REIT (ASA D-REIT) for the first half of 2023.
The consistent performance of the ASA REITs over the past three years, despite prevailing economic headwinds being faced by many industries, has demonstrated the resiliency of the Student Housing sector and bolstered the trust and confidence of investors. This has led to an impressive 80% year-on-year increase in rights subscriptions by existing investors during the supplementary offers for both REITs in Q2 2023. As the supplementary offers transition into the open market phase, the ASA REITs are looking forward to welcoming new institutional and retail investors (through Vuka) to this investment asset class.
Finally, the ASA REITs have attained another milestone as they have been certified as Shariah Permissible, which is expected to start attracting capital from Shariah investors.
The ASA D-REIT remains steadfast in its mission to develop and operationalize Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA), evident in its operational properties such as Qwetu Hurlingham; Qwetu Aberdare Heights II; and Qwetu and Qejani Karen. Notably, the rental revenue has demonstrated a positive growth trajectory, rising from KES 139 million to KES 162 million for the 6-month period ending on June 30, 2023, compared to the same period last year. With the ongoing sale of Qwetu Hurlingham and the planned sale of Qwetu Aberdare Heights II to the ASA I-REIT in Quarter 4, the ASA D-REIT is poised to pay its first dividend later this year which will be in line with the investment plan provided to investors at launch in February 2021.
The ASA D-REIT’s profitability has witnessed remarkable growth, from KES 105 million to KES 170 million, leading to an increase in Net Asset Value (NAV) from KES 5.6 billion to KES 6.5 billion. Furthermore, the per-unit price experienced a rise from KES 23.87 to KES 25.31 in the last twelve months.
To expand its portfolio, ASA D-REIT is also progressing construction of new Qwetu and Qejani properties at JKUAT in Juja, Kenyatta University and Hurlingham which is driving the company’s strategic plan to meet the growing demand for quality student accommodation. The ASA D-REIT continues to actively evaluate new locations in Nairobi CBD, Juja and Parklands to sustain its pipeline growth.
The ASA I-REIT reported notable highlights in its recent financial performance. Rental revenue experienced significant growth from KES 186 million to KES 325 million. Due to the rising interest rate environment, the ASA I-REIT’s profitability was marginally impacted to KES 113 million. Nevertheless, the distributable income saw a remarkable 24% increase, reaching KES 93 million from KES 75 million compared to the same period last year.
Based on the impressive growth of distributable income, the ASA I-REIT has announced an enhanced dividend payout of KES 87 million, equivalent to KES 30 cents per unit. The imminent additions of Qwetu Hurlingham and Qwetu Aberdare Heights II to the portfolio are expected to further enhance overall returns for investors.
On releasing the results, the Managing Director of AIML, Mr. Raghav Gandhi said:
“In a challenging economic environment, the financial performance of the ASA REITs continues to showcase our commitment to delivering value to our investors. Now with the continuing scale-up of the portfolio, the REIT Manager is finding new opportunities to reduce cost by benefiting from economies of scale, which should help sustain profitable growth into the future.
Following the Shariah Permissibility certification, we are pleased to be able to introduce to the Capital Markets this investment opportunity, given the dearth of options for Shariah investors. We look forward to their participation in our capital raising efforts.”