South Africa: Taking Liberties During Storm Warnings


At the end of March 2020, Liberty Properties revalued its R20-billion property portfolio downwards by 20%, writing off R4-billion with a stroke of the pen. In the process, it forgot to tell its clients whose portfolio values fell by the same amount.

It was an ordinary Monday morning at the start of the three-week lockdown period during March 2020. Householders, not used to being housebound, were going about their domestic chores. The weather, back then, was still balmy. One individual, an investor in the Liberty Unlisted Property Portfolio (LPP), was checking his investments, as he does "far too regularly", he tells Business Maverick.

Imagine his surprise when after watching the value of his units inch upwards for several weeks, his portfolio was reduced in value by almost 25%, falling by R335,000 with over 200,000 units removed from his portfolio.

This is shocking under any circumstances, but given the stable performance of the fund, and the fact that as of 29 February 2020, the fund fact sheet reflected a marginally positive return for the year to date, it was particularly unpalatable.

The fund is a retail-focused property portfolio with smaller allocations to both the office and hospitality sectors.

There was no...

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