Articles on this Page
- 09/18/19--02:20: _Africa’s most attra...
- 09/18/19--16:00: _SA slips to third; ...
- 09/23/19--02:32: _EB-5 Visa changes: ...
- 09/24/19--19:30: _Where is the UK’s s...
- 09/25/19--19:30: _18,000 SA jobs coul...
- 10/16/19--10:30: _The RamaRupert inve...
- 10/27/19--19:00: _Investment opportun...
- 11/04/19--15:45: _Time for Cyril to p...
- 11/06/19--11:32: _Ramaphosa confirms ...
- 11/12/19--15:45: _SA companies openin...
- Consumer inflation has risen by 4.3% in August from the 4% recorded in July, which is the fastest pace of acceleration in a year. The biggest contributors to the increase were food and utilities with mealie meal rising sharply with super maize costing 18% more than in August last year and special maize prices jumping by 27.5%. The overall cost of electricity rose by 11.8% after most municipalities set their new annual rates and tariffs in July.
- The R2.4trn savings industry has a request for the ruling party: stop threatening to dictate where funds must invest and get going on projects that pensions can help finance. The CEO of the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa, Leon Campher said the government could prescribe but nothing will happen unless it had proper projects. President Cyril Ramaphosa last month echoed the ANC manifesto saying a discussion was required to investigate the use of prescribed assets as a tool for fostering economic growth. A lack of detail on how retirement funds could be forced into investing in state-owned companies or government projects has stoked concerns it could leave pensioners poorer if these don’t make inflation-beating returns.
- Global markets were wavering yesterday in anticipation of a US interest rate decision. On the JSE, the All Share Index was down 1.1% and Industrials dropped by almost 2.5%. The Rand ended the day on R14.62 to the greenback. Luxury goods company Richemont slid by almost 6% on the JSE as UBS changed ratings in the European luxury sector saying that it may be nearing the end of the recovery cycle. UBS predicted the most risk for Richemont, which it downgraded to sell from neutral.
- Sasol is planning to sell its South African coal-mining business. Bloomberg reports that Sasol will begin a formal sales process in the coming weeks but the company did not comment on which assets have been earmarked for divestment. It comes as Sasol grapples with cost overruns and delays at its US chemicals project. Selling its coal mines may also help Sasol to reduce it environmental liabilities as more investors are focusing on how business affects climate change.
- Yesterday was a bumper day for corruption busting: The Council for Medical Schemes has suspended five officials including two executives and three senior managers over allegations of irregularities following anonymous tip-offs on its hotline. The allegations include irregular placement of schemes under curatorship, irregular appointment of service providers and having personal lifestyles not matched by salaries among other, to mention a few. SAA is planning to take nine dockets to court. The Chief Risk and Compliance officer, Vusi Pikoli told a Parliamentary committee that in one of the cases former directors of the airline are implicated in corruption. The airline is also planning to make a submission to the Zondo Commission; and the Special Investigating Unit is trying to recover more R560m lost due to irregularities in the awarding of contracts by former directors of the SABC. SIU Head Andy Mothibi told Parliament that they were trying to recoup losses by withholding the pensions of former bosses Hlaudi Motsoeneng and James Aguma.
- South Africa has fallen to third place in the latest ‘RMB Where to Invest in Africa‘ ratings behind Egypt and Morocco. Egypt is now the most attractive market for investment and Morocco lies second. South Africa has slipped from its second place in the previous report because of depressed levels of growth and a lack of structural reform. It is however still seen as Africa’s hotspot for portfolio investment and its financial markets and level of financial inclusion is seen to be a cut above the rest.
- 09/23/19--02:32: EB-5 Visa changes: Only two months before cost of US entry rockets
- 09/24/19--19:30: Where is the UK’s second city for property investment?
- 09/25/19--19:30: 18,000 SA jobs could be impacted with proposed cap on investment
- 10/16/19--10:30: The RamaRupert investment show – John Battersby
- 10/27/19--19:00: Investment opportunities in London’s student hot spots
- 11/04/19--15:45: Time for Cyril to pull another rabbit from his new Bok jersey
- 11/06/19--11:32: Ramaphosa confirms R363bn in investment commitments
- Anglo American
- Minister Ebrahim Patel and all the members of the Ministerial Steering Committee;
- Ms Trudi Makhaya, my economic adviser, and the Organising Committee; and
- all the government departments, agencies and entities who have been part of this outstanding effort;
- Presidential Investment Envoys, Mr Jacko Maree, Ms Phumzile Langeni, Mr Trevor Manuel and Mr Mcebisi Jonas.
- 11/12/19--15:45: SA companies opening investing taps, ushering a foreign flood
Every year RMB releases the Investment Attractiveness Rankings report, which lists the African countries from top to bottom. It’s unpacks criteria which is used to determine which nation is the most attractive to invest in. This year saw Egypt hold on to top spot, while a surprise saw Morocco leapfrog South Africa into second, with the southernmost country in third. Having lead the pack two years ago, SA is still seen as the springboard for investment into the continent. Alec Hogg spoke to RMB’s Celeste Fauconnier.
This special podcast is brought to you by RMB. Celeste Fauconnier joins us now with a look at the annual most attractive African countries to invest in. Well timed, given that Africa’s coming to South Africa for the World Economic Forum.
It wasn’t done on purpose, but this is usually the time that we publish the Report, so we are very excited for it to be hosted in South Africa this year. Being one of the top-ranked countries in the RMB Investment Attractiveness Rankings, we are very proud of the country being the springboard for investment into Africa.
Why do you do this ranking in the first place?
The main purpose is to give our clients easily digestible information on economic activity, where to invest, and how easy it is to do business on the continent. It brings together a significant amount of data and analysis to make investment decisions easier. Once investors have an idea of the most attractive investment destinations, they can also dig a bit deeper into sector opportunities.
Are your clients getting more or less excited about Africa?
I think it’s a bit of a mixed bag at the moment. Over the past few years we’ve seen African growth rates struggling. Growth is, however, not the only indicator that our clients look at. Growth rates are associated with commodity prices. We have not seen commodity prices recover to that super-cycle that we saw in 2011. We do, however, believe that commodity prices will improve moderately over the next few years, which I think should excite investors. We also need to highlight that there are some anomalies on the continent that have been seeing strong growth rates regardless of commodity prices. This is highlighted in our publication’s overview.
Top of the pops again is Egypt. It’s held onto that position quite comfortably.
Yes. It’s the third year at the top of our ranking. For the past three years, Egypt has made significant strides in changing their business environment, improving external investment into the market and growing their own industries. We have seen signed agreements with the IMF. They also took the difficult decision a few years ago to devalue their currency to be more reflective of what’s happening in the market. Even though these were tough decisions, in the long run it will help with structural changes in the economy. We are also expecting an approximate 5.3% growth rate for the next five years. This is well above the 4% average expected for the rest of Africa.
What is Egypt doing that other African countries can learn from?
They have gone through significant political turmoil, specifically the Arab Spring in 2011. The government made changes to address the unhappiness of the youth by initiating programmes to help with youth unemployment. They have also changed some of their trade policies to make it easier for countries to trade with Egypt. We have also seen that the government has become pro-business by industrialising their own economy through the implementation of pro-business reforms.
South Africa of course is looking for answers. We think that we’ve got something here, an approach of humility. A learning and listening government has now been installed, but we’ve slipped down one more position to number three, overtaken by Morocco.
When we slipped two years back from the coveted number one spot, it wasn’t a massive surprise because we were in the middle of a political storm. Our government was changing between Jacob Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa and investor sentiment was declining. With that, we’ve seen a decline in the overall growth rates of the economy.
Because we are so globally exposed, we’ve been feeling the pinch of a downturn in global growth, which unfortunately has also stymied the levels of growth. We have also seen a lack of significant structural reforms.
I need to highlight though that South Africa remains a hotspot for portfolio investment. It is definitely still the most liquid market in Africa. We’ve spoken to many international clients and South Africa is still the springboard for investment into Africa. But we have to see structural reforms being implemented, specifically at our state-owned enterprises. These changes can easily put us back into the number one spot over the next few years.
But for the moment we’re number three. What’s going on in Morocco that it managed to get past South Africa?
Morocco’s economy was not as hard hit by the Arab Spring as other North African countries. They have also implemented business environment reforms. These include simplifying the process of registering a business, improved electronic submissions, and processing of exports. They’ve also improved trade with other countries and customs services operate more efficiently now. All of these small changes have seen Morocco displacing South Africa. We have used indicators from all the overall rankings globally from The World Economic Forum, and The Global Competitiveness Report, to The World Bank Doing Business report.
I guess the next issue for South Africa would be to not to slip another position. How close is number four – Kenya and number five – Rwanda?
From a scoring perspective I think South Africa is definitely still safe in the number three spot, if nothing goes wrong before we publish the Report again for 2021. We are still seen as one of the top five investment destinations on the continent.
I do not think that Kenya and Rwanda can make significant enough changes in a year’s time to be able to displace South Africa. Kenya and Rwanda are currently growing at about 5% and 7% respectively. Only if we see stronger growth in these countries and less growth in South Africa, could we see them overtake our country.
Before we move on to the other parts of the survey, from a South African point of view, has the country bottomed from the analysis that you’ve done? In other words, is it now likely to be challenging for number two and number one again? Do we have to worry about the threat from number four and five?
Let’s go back to the methodology that we use. We look at economic activity – specifically growth rates and market size in billion-dollar terms. Growth rates and business sentiment negatively affected South Africa and caused us to slip. We are seeing investors taking into consideration the potential of a downgrade in the next year, and the surveys used reflect the need to fix our state-owned enterprises in the near future. But I don’t think there will be a significant shift unless there is an unpleasant surprise that hits our market. That’s why we would probably maintain our number three spot.
Looking at the top 10 – Ghana number six, Cote d’Ivoire number seven, Nigeria number eight, Ethiopia number nine and Tunisia number 10. The real action seems to be just outside the top 10 with the big improvement by Senegal.
Not just Senegal. We’ve seen four other countries that have seen significant changes in their rankings such as: Senegal, Mozambique, Guinea and Djibouti. Senegal has seen strong improvement in their growth rates. In fact, it’s one of the strongest growth drivers of the West African region at the moment. Changes in their business environment have resulted in investment flowing into that market.
These markets (specifically Senegal) are very resource rich with large populations and significant domestic demand, which make them quite attractive investment destinations. The four countries that I’ve mentioned, are however still very tricky business environments. They aren’t very well rated by the rating agencies from a sovereign risk perspective.
To go back to the improvement that we have seen in Mozambique for instance: the country has been struggling over the past few years, specifically since 2016, with a debt crisis, but the government will restructure that debt and they are still in talks with the key bondholders. It seems like an agreement will be signed, which means that restructuring debt structures will bring light at the end of the tunnel. The prospects of the oil and gas industry are so big that we cannot ignore Mozambique over the long term. We are potentially going to see double digit growth rates in 2023 and 2024 when these resources come online.
Looking at another smaller country in East Africa that we hardly ever speak about – Djibouti: it has seen the largest move in our rankings, jumping 10 positions. Similarly to what we’ve seen happening in Rwanda over the past few years, Djibouti is finally catching up and we are seeing reforms in areas of new business and easier access to credit for small to medium enterprises. There is a marked improvement in sentiment and more investments that will feed through into growth rates.
When you have a look at the table, the countries that you would probably not be wanting to invest in are headed by Equatorial Guinea, then Somalia, Burundi. A new entrant to the bottom four is Liberia, which has really plummeted in the past year. It is the worst of the performers and the country that needs to assess its situation mostly when talking about foreign investment. What’s been going on there to cause this chaos?
These four countries’ current status comes as no surprise due to the fractious political environment against a disconcerting political backdrop. These countries cannot escape the negativity and are in dire need of quick reforms.
Countries like Liberia (because it’s so small) has a slow growth with a very low GDP and high inflation – all of which does not help its government. The very same can be said about countries like Burundi, Somalia and Equatorial Guinea. We can’t see this changing anytime soon. Equatorial Guinea is a country that has one of the largest GDP per capita of more than US$10,000 annually, but it is obviously concentrated around the oil and gas industry. It’s extremely unequal in these four specific markets.
Just to close off with Gabon. It continues to slide like Equatorial Guinea in a similar part of the continent. Although richly endowed it doesn’t seem to be getting things right.
Gabon actually featured in one of our previous documents as being an up-and-coming retail sector. But unfortunately, we haven’t seen that coming to fruition. The operating environment has declined significantly since 2015, and as I’ve mentioned, it doesn’t help that it’s a small market.
We’ve also seen significant volatility in the oil price, which has had an impact on countries like Nigeria, Angola and Gabon that are still heavily dependent on the revenues from oil. Once you see oil prices going down, smaller markets like Gabon will immediately feel the pinch. There’s a massive risk of social unrest, so unfortunately things are not looking good for those small economies at the moment.
When a multinational is looking at Africa, would it be considering regions? It was very interesting in your report to see how divergent the prospects are for the various regions – East Africa on top and Southern Africa unfortunately being at the bottom.
When we look at our rankings, we usually use the latest foreign direct investment stats, as well as the UN stats. This shows where investment is physically flowing in from a cash perspective. It was usually highly concentrated in Southern and West Africa because of the ease of doing business and the amount of resources respectively. But now we have started seeing more of an equal footing.
Four of the five regions in Africa are now almost on the same footing when it comes to the share of the continent’s foreign direct investment projects. Unfortunately, Central Africa is still a hard investment environment because of the political instability. East Africa is going to be the growth driver of Africa in the next few years and that is why we see investment going into that market – specifically because of the discovery of oil and gas across the region. We’ve already started seeing significant infrastructure investment in this industry. Investment has been heading into more alternative sectors because of a commodity price downturn in the past few years. Investors are looking for alternative areas of investment like information, communication technology and manufacturing. In East Africa, these are two areas that investors have paid a lot of attention to.
China is the number one investor into Africa, followed by the United States. Interesting to see number three is India.
Many investors believe that China is the largest investor into Africa and while from a dollar perspective that is true, when looking at projects, China is number three. The private sector in India has been looking for alternative sectors to invest in. India cannot meet all of its demands with their own industries, so they have to look elsewhere. India and Africa have traditionally had good relations, specifically East Africa. We have seen investment into specific service sectors like healthcare and education. China is still mostly operating in the resources sector.
Is it concerning to your client base that South Africa has fallen?
Absolutely. The reasons are twofold: we’ve been having our own economic issues and the balance sheets of many companies have felt the pinch because of this. What we’ve seen is that because the African markets have not been growing significantly over the past four years, some of our corporates have actually been looking elsewhere.
South America and the Eastern European economies have been receiving attention from South Africa. South African corporates have traditionally shown interest in countries like Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique. Botswana and Namibia are still experiencing strong activity. In Zambia and Mozambique, corporates are now thinking twice before investing into these markets. We advise clients that these current problems are cyclical, and when governments are getting involved in business through stringent regulations, we suggest that investors maintain their positions in these markets and see these difficult cycles through.
Is there any improvement in Zimbabwe from the research you’ve been doing?
Yes. We have seen improvements reflected in the political stability component of our methodology. We are positive that we will see changes within the market over the next few years, but unfortunately these changes aren’t reflected in the numbers yet.
In our rankings, we’ve seen Zimbabwe slipping from Number 34 to number 37, but the key reason is the liquidity in the market. We have seen significant difficulties with the currency in that they are going to print more money, which in turn has been affecting inflation. But the changes in the political stability rankings will eventually filter through. If the government makes changes to the indigenisation laws, we will start seeing reinvestment into refurbishing of infrastructure and as a result, a very quick improvement in the rankings.
A little bit like South Africa, the springboard potential does exist.
Celeste Fauconnier is with RMB and this special Podcast was brought to you by RMB.
By Linda van Tilburg
Bernie Wolfsdorf, the US’s top immigration lawyer, is being run off his feet right now. The Durban-born managing partner of California-based Wolfsdorf Rosenthal, who is currently in SA, says the reason behind his sleep deprivation is the rush by clients to take advantage of the EB-5 visa ahead of radical adjustments that will be imposed in November. He says “businessman” Donald Trump appreciates the popularity of the investment-driven ticket in to the US and is substantially hiking the price from the current $500,000 investment to as much as $1.8m. He was a guest on this week’s episode of Rational Radio.
Let’s kick off the program with Bernie Wolfsdorf who is with a firm in the United States – pretty high up on the rankings of immigration lawyers. We’ve asked him to give us some insight into a huge thing which is changing at the moment. Bernie, you’re in South Africa at the moment, do you hail from here originally?
That is absolutely correct.
I’m from Durban and that’s my home and my heart is in South Africa. So the minute I land here it feels like I’ve come back home. But I do have to correct one small thing Alec, you said I’m one of the top immigration lawyers. Can I share, I was rated the top immigration lawyer – seven out of the last nine years. So let’s go with the top lawyer.
I’m here for a really important and critical reason – America and its green card. I love telling this to people. Having a green card does not mean leaving South Africa, it does not mean closing the door to South Africa. It means opening the door to the United States. It means opening the door to the rest of the world. Many South Africans are interested in looking at this opportunity – the possibility that their children study at an Ivy League university abroad – and to provide this kind of opportunity. So we have been busy.
Here’s the reason why.
At the moment, the EB-5 or immigrant investor program, involves an investment of $500,000, but we have an unusual president. His name is President Donald Trump and he’s a businessman. He has increased the price of the minimum investment – from $500,000 to $900,000 – effective November 21 2019. So we have this little window of about two months. At the moment we can invest in what they call top level projects and not have to go into rural areas. So in reality to get the kinds of projects and investments that are currently available, after November 20, will cost $1.8m, a 350% increase. That’s why I’m here – the news is spreading rapidly. It’s almost like a feeding frenzy right now – this door that is closing. It’s a little bit sad. Maybe some presidents in the future will open it but America is not as welcoming as it has been.
Four friends of mine – South Africans who went into a low employment area in California – invested about R5m each and they’ve built quite a nice business. Is that what you’re talking about here – the EB-5 visa? In other words, bring entrepreneurs and their money into the United States and we’ll make it nice for them to stay.
It’s a bit of a complex program. If you make a $500,000 investment into a job producing project, it’s not so much the investment, they want to see job creation. Everywhere in the United States – everywhere in the world – wants to see jobs being created. So this money is not put into a bank, it has to go into a job creating enterprise. What they do is give you a two year conditional green card and thereafter you have the condition removed, then you get the full green card. After five years – now we’re six, seven years down the road – you can apply to be an American citizen.
As I explained to all my South African Clients – a dual citizenship. A note of silliness, I tell all my clients to remember that when you have your American passport – that’s the blue one – that goes on the right hand side but the green passport goes on the left hand side over your heart. Make sure that when you go to South Africa, you give them the green one and when you go to America you give them the blue one. If you get that mixed up you might just get kicked out.
And there’s no problem in having dual citizenship from an American perspective?
Americans interestingly, are more open minded on this. The South African government is quite restrictive – we have to get permission. This is a warning to all South Africans. You need to get permission before you get a second passport or you will automatically lose your Green mamba.
Bernie, just to go back into the basics of all of this. If South Africans are looking to get to the United States – perhaps to live there at some stage in future or not – if the EB-5 visa gets you in, do you have to go? Do you have to follow your money?
I keep getting this question and I think that a lot of people have got bad information. The green card requires that you live in the United States. It is true and there’s a misconception in my opinion. There are rules and regulations of course and the rule is if you have a green card you are expected to live in the United States. But the good news is that there is something called a re-entry permit, sometimes called the white passport. South Africans actually like it because you can get visas – and it’s easier than getting a visa in a South African passport. They know once you have a green card you obviously have a place where you permanently resided in the United States so they’re not worried that you’re going to jump ship as it were.
But the simple bottom line is that they expect you to live in the United States. The re-entry permit does allow you to be out for up to two years at a time and that can be renewed for another two years and then one year at a time after that. I have seen people renew it year after year after year. But I also like to be very direct with my clients. It’s a hassle to go through this because you have filing fees and lawyers, but the re-entry permit is possible.
We’re doing a lot for South Africans because the life here is still pretty good. Most of my clients continue to have business interests here. I live in Los Angeles, we have seven offices throughout the United States with 150 employees. We are probably the biggest immigration law firm in Los Angeles. But I’d like to point out something interesting. Los Angeles has the largest Korean community outside of Korea. The amount of trade between Korea and the United States is phenomenal. And who are the people who are making this happen? It’s obviously the Koreans who immigrate. So one of the things that I would like to point out to those South Africans who see immigrating as not being loyal. Global trade is a good thing. Having South Africans abroad who are doing business with South Africans – Import, Export, Development – this is a global economy and with a computer you can work anywhere in the world. I just met with a client – a small software development company – and they’re subcontracting to an American company. So this is where the world is going.
This EB-5 green card opens the door and numerous opportunities. Unfortunately this is expensive. $500,000 at today’s exchange rate is a hell of a lot of money. But some people see it as a currency hedge. I’m not a currency specialist and I don’t give any advice on that topic, but I do know that three years ago the rand was worth a lot more.
Bernie Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal and as you heard he is the top immigration lawyer in the United States and that’s quite something for a boy from Durban.
*This content is brought to you by One Touch Property
Whilst Birmingham and Manchester compete over the UK’s “second city” status. They also compete on which place is more lucrative for investment.
The birthplace of The Smiths vs the birthplace of Duran Duran; Manchester and Birmingham both contribute massive amounts to the UK in terms of culture. Manchester boasts two world class football teams and the infamous Eccles cake; Birmingham has the Balti Triangle and the most Michelin star restaurants outside of London. The recent regeneration of the cities, and influx of new companies means that they have become increasingly attractive to young professionals looking to kick-start their career. These two cities go head-to-head as we compare them to see which place is better for buy to let property investments.
Businesses moving to Birmingham and Manchester from London
Both Birmingham and Manchester are enticing professionals out of London. 7,620 people left London for Birmingham and 10,200 people left London for greater Manchester according to figures from the Office for National Statistics and Reach PLC respectively. Both cities have experienced a large amount of investment and some companies have been moving their headquarters from London to Birmingham and Manchester due to cheaper rents. Amazon are setting up their first building in Manchester later this year and the transformation of MediaCityUK has attracted brands such as ITV and Kellogg’s. Similarly, companies are finding Birmingham increasingly attractive, PwC has announced it will take up all the commercial space at One Chamberlain Square and BBC Three have moved part of their business to the city.
Young professionals leaving London for Birmingham and Manchester chasing jobs and a cheaper way of life
One reason why people are moving out of London in such numbers could be the cost of living, including rent and house prices. According to Rightmove, the average house price in Birmingham is £202,721 and in Manchester it is £203,203. This is compared to London which has an overall average house price of £618,065. Rent is also considerably cheaper in Birmingham and Manchester compared to London, which stands at a whopping £1,473 per month on average.
With more affordable rents and job opportunities like what is available in London, it is understandable that young professionals have been moving to Manchester and Birmingham. In fact, Birmingham has one of the youngest populations in Europe, with 40% of the city’s inhabitants being under the age of 25. Manchester’s city centre population has grown by 149% between 2002 – 2015 and job growth has been 84% between 1998 and 2015.
Areas such as Digbeth in Birmingham are attracting a young, artistic crowd and this is reflected in the number of creative working spaces and craft breweries that are popping up – mirroring the popularity of Shoreditch in London. One particular investment option in Digbeth is Moseley Gardens, a new development comprising 67 one and two-bedroom apartments. Due for completion in Q2 2020, one-bedroom flats in Moseley Gardens start from £185,000. These could be an ideal option for someone looking to live in the area, or the astute investor who knows Digbeth will soon be one of the most coveted areas in Birmingham.
Similarly, Salford Quays is an area in Manchester which has been propelled into popularity due to the creation of MediaCityUK and the relocation of broadcasting companies such as the BBC and ITV to the area. A waterside location with polished high-rise flats, it is like the Canary Wharf of Manchester.
Manchester’s city centre has experienced a lot of regeneration, from Spinningfields and Deansgate to Ancoats and New Islington. Local Blackfriars is a new development on Blackfriars Street close to the Northern Quarter and Manchester’s shopping district. Residents will be spoilt for choice in terms of eateries, bars and shops to explore. Local Blackfriars boasts impressive communal spaces and amenities such as a 24/7 concierge service, bistro, bar, a gymnasium, cinema room and fully equipped laundry room.
Birmingham v Manchester head to head in investment terms
With regards to population growth, Cushman & Wakefield estimate that Manchester’s population will swell by 56,000 by 2034. Between 2018 and 2028 Birmingham’s population is estimated to increase by 7.2% (81,400) according to Birmingham city council.
Although Birmingham’s population is predicted to increase more than Manchester’s, Manchester has a higher average house price indicating that property is more in demand in the northern city. Not only that, it got named as the best place to live in 2018 in the UK by The Economist’s ‘Global Livability Index”. Birmingham holds no such accolades, which may swing things in favour of Manchester in terms of how much people are willing to pay for homes in the area.
Manchester and Birmingham are relatively evenly matched when it comes to graduate retention and attraction, probably due to the multi-national companies moving to the cities. These young professionals will obviously contribute to rental yield and eventually capital growth, as they will rent whilst getting settled in their career and will eventually buy. Manchester retains 51% of the city’s graduates and Birmingham retains 49% of all its graduates. Birmingham saw the third largest inflow of graduates who had no prior links to the city – just behind Manchester. 53% of those who grew up in Birmingham returned to the city after graduation, and it was 58% for Manchester. There is no great disparity between graduate figures and we do not think the difference will be enough to swing investment fundamentals in either city’s favour.
Rental yield and capital growth prospects in Birmingham and Manchester
Manchester performs slightly better than Birmingham in terms of rental yields, offering an average of 5.55% compared to Birmingham’s 4.61%.
In Birmingham, the average weekly wage is £527, this is compared to an average weekly wage of £512 in Manchester. Although not a massive disparity, the higher wages coupled with lower property prices could mean that in future residents in Birmingham are in a better position to buy property compared to residents in Manchester. A larger proportion of wealthy young professionals looking to buy property will obviously have a positive effect on capital growth. This is reflected in house price growth, with Birmingham edging Manchester slightly at 16% compared to 15% since June 2016.
Birmingham also has the advantage of more rapidly improving transport infrastructure. HS2 will shorten travel times to London from 82 minutes to 45 minutes. Being in the midlands, it is also easier to access other parts of the United Kingdom. Manchester’s transport infrastructure is also improving as part of the Great North Rail Project. All of Manchester’s train stations have been connected by a 300m long bridge called the Ordsall Chord which helped people travel across Manchester more easily, as well as making Manchester Airport more accessible.
So, where is the UK’s second city in terms of investment?
Manchester certainly commands higher rental yields, and more people have left London for Manchester compared to Birmingham. However, the transport infrastructure improvements in Birmingham will make it increasingly attractive and this is reflected in the fact that its population is due to increase at a higher rate than Manchester’s.
If investors are looking for a more short-term investment, we would recommend investing in property in Manchester as it is already attractive to tenants and buyers. Manchester has already enticed global companies and young professionals to the city. Longer term, is there scope for much more growth and regeneration? It appears Birmingham has more regeneration in the pipeline and room for property prices to increase more, whilst still allowing investors to buy into the market at a lower price.
Where should South Africans invest in the UK?
According to IP Global, Manchester and Birmingham represent two of the best cities globally to invest in property. Many from overseas would assume that UK property is too expensive and inaccessible but property in most areas north of London is considerably more affordable, and with the pound faltering against other currencies now provides an ideal environment for overseas investors to purchase UK property.
South Africans have already shown a sustained interest in Manchester, with construction company WBHO in acquiring a 60% stake in Russells Construction in 2018. Russells Construction is working on several developments in the region, including Three St. Peter’s Square and Axis Tower in the city centre. Both construction companies and investment funds are seeing opportunity in the Manchester market, and it could be a good option for individual investors looking to move their money out of South Africa. According to property portal Placebuzz, most searches have been made for investment in Glasgow and Birmingham, indicating consumer interest in those two cities as well.
You can download the brochure which compares the property investment fundamentals in both Birmingham and Manchester here > Birmingham v Manchester Property Investment Fundamentals
One Touch Property will be in South Africa visiting Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town between 7th and 18th October 2019. They will be holding one-to-one consultations with potential investors providing them with guidance regarding the UK property investment sector and presenting investment opportunities in Birmingham and Manchester.
Contact them today to arrange a consultation.
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Recent proposals by National Treasury to cap the amount that high net worth individuals and corporates can invest in Section 12J schemes will stifle an initiative to grow small business that is starting to deliver real results, says Gadi Cohen, MD of Optomise, a Section 12J fund manager. The 12J association is of the view that some 18 000 jobs could be lost if the cap is implemented, most of the impact coming from the lower individual investment threshold.
Section 12J of the Income Tax Act, introduced in 2009, allows an investor to deduct the full amount of an investment in a qualifying business from his or her tax liability in the year in which it is made. The object of the act, in line with similar legislation in several other countries, is to provide a pool of capital for small businesses.
Section 12J naturally appeals to high net worth individuals paying the maximum tax rate, who without this tax break would invest those funds offshore.
The 2019 Tax Laws Amendment Bill gazetted in mid-July intends to limit the amount that a single investor can invest in a Section 12J scheme to R2.5m a year and a corporate can invest R5m a year.
Although the deduction allowed for Section 12J investments costs the South African fiscus 45c in the rand in taxes sacrificed in the short term, the South African economy benefits from the investment of 100c in the rand in a range of job-creating activities, says Cohen.
“In time, those businesses will also start paying taxes. The multiplier effect of every rand invested in the SA economy is exponential.”
Optomise can attest to the success of the tax break, which really started to leverage investments after amendments to Section 12J were enacted in 2014.
In the last 12 months, R280m of Section 12J funds invested through Optomise alone have created over 500 jobs. These include 32 jobs saved through investments into struggling small hotels and 120 jobs retained in the retail sector, which is under pressure from weak consumer spending.
“As the industry has only begun gaining traction over the last three years, it is still young but over time, the multiplier effect of the growth of businesses and job creation will provide additional impetus to raising South Africa’s employment rate,” Cohen says.
The job creating potential of small businesses is acknowledged in the National Development Plan, which aims for SMMEs to account for 90% of new employment opportunities.
An Economic Impact Assessment by the 12J Association of SA showed that three times more jobs would be created by Section 12J with no annual limitation than Section 12J with an annual R2.5m cap.
“Our initial results from the high-level impact assessment show that for R1 million of venture capital investment (in members of the 12J Association) lost due to the introduction of the cap, an average of 5 jobs are lost to the South African economy,” says the Association, in a recent letter to the Finance Minister and the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service.
“We argue that, in this context, 12J is an effective source of job creation in South Africa, especially in the context of other available incentives and government’s current strategic objectives,” the Association says.
Cohen says SA’s incentive scheme needs to offer greater, rather than less, encouragement to invest in small business, given the country’s urgent need to create jobs.
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Overseas audiences respond well to President Cyril Ramaphosa. He is friendly, jovial and clearly the kind of leader that they can trust, unlike his predecessor. The muttering on the side of the Financial Times Africa Summit that took place in London this week was that Ramaphosa was clearly impressive and much liked; but and it was a big but: Could he deliver the economic changes that he promised and given the opposition in the ANC and the severe damage that the Zuma era had caused, and turn South Africa into the investment haven foreign investors were looking for? It was interesting to see that Johann Rupert was also on the programme; he agreed to be interviewed by the FT Editor Lion Baber on how he saw the investment potential of South Africa. Earlier Rupert and his wife Gaynor were seen in the audience listening to Ramaphosa’s speech. John Battersby writes in the Daily Maverick that Rupert went on to help Ramaphosa to “try to quell the scepticism in the room” and that it was an “unlikely pas de deux” especially in light of the fact that Rupert was painted as the face of White Monopoly Capital by the Zuptoids. Perhaps this pairing is not that unlikely. Rupert had recently teamed up with Patrice Motsepe, Ramaphosa’s brother-in-law for a controlling stake in the Blue Bulls. Ramaphosa needs all the help he can get and a push for investment from the likes of Rupert can help with the overseas investment community, even though it may not get the same reception at home. First published on the Daily Maverick. – Linda van Tilburg
Financial Times Africa Summit: Ramaphosa and Rupert’s unlikely pas de deux
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London is a large city with many varying neighbourhoods. Where you live will impact your university experience to an extent, as you will want to choose an area you feel comfortable in.
Beginning your studies in London can be overwhelming. The city is made up of 32 boroughs covering 607 square miles and home to almost 9 million people. There are 40 higher education institutions (excluding London branches of foreign universities) educating over 400,000 students. It goes without saying that there will be a lot of choice when it comes to choosing your university institution and accommodation.
Universities in London tend to have their campuses in the city centre, with London School of Economics, Queen Mary and King’s College being situated around Aldwych and Holborn, and Imperial being in South Kensington. UCL is around Russell Square and Euston.
Many students decide to live near their university site and in central London as they will be close to all that London has to offer in terms of places to eat, museums, transport hubs and other attractions. They will also be less reliant on public transport and will have the ability to explore most of London on foot. Here are our suggestions on areas to consider living if you are a student in London.
Shoreditch and Spitalfields
Located along the outskirts of the City of London and close to Liverpool Street, Spitalfields and Shoreditch are popular areas for Chinese students. East London is often considered “trendy” and “arty” and will really resonate with students who are undertaking more creative degrees. Shoreditch is famed for its nightlife and Spitalfields is home to a large market which is open daily. Both areas have plenty of restaurants and cafes for students to spend their free time refuelling and studying. Universities in the immediate vicinity include London Metropolitan University (Aldgate campus), and London campuses of Northumbria University and Coventry University. The University of Law and City University are also close by.
South Kensington is in west London and is considered leafy and upmarket with tree-lined streets and Georgian housing. Here you will find many of London’s world-famous museums such as the Science Museum, Victoria and Albert and the Natural History Museum. Imperial College London have a site near to the Science Museum, so students can spend their days in lectures and expanding their minds attending the many exhibitions the Science Museum hosts each year. King’s College and London School of Economics are a short underground ride away.
Recently regenerated King’s Cross is a great area for students who like industrial-style housing and having everything on their doorstep. One such industrial-style development is Coal Drops Yard, which won a RIBA architecture award as the judges appreciated the sensitive refurbishment of the original structures and the ‘kissing roofs’. The name Coal Drops Yard was chosen to pay homage to the gas manufacturing works in the area.
King’s Cross is one of the best-connected areas of London, with 6 lines running through its underground station, an overground train station that has services to various cities to the north east of London and Scotland, and nearby St. Pancras where holidaymakers can catch the Eurostar to other cities in Europe such as Amsterdam, Bruges and Paris.
Not only is King’s Cross one of the most coveted areas in London with the best-connected transport hubs, it is also close to some of London’s top universities, including UCL and SOAS.
The Plimsoll Building King’s Cross overlooks Regent’s Canal and Gasholder Park. The Plimsoll development was built when the regeneration of King’s X was underway, and investors can use the increased attractiveness of the area to their advantage.
The ground and first floors are dedicated to its two schools, so there is a strong sense of community and longer-term tenants with families living in the immediate area.
One Touch Property on offer a 10th floor apartment which boasts spectacular views, two double bedrooms, two modern bathrooms, open plan living area, fully fitted kitchen and balcony. Available furnished, the apartment is 69 square metres, including the balcony. Residents will benefit from the use of a 24-hour concierge, residents’ lounge, rooftop conservatory, courtyard garden and fitness suite. The apartment’s layout is ideal if it were to be let as a rental property. It boasts two bedrooms and two bathrooms, allowing each occupant maximum privacy and independence.
Investors do not have to worry about immediately finding a tenant as the property is already occupied and the tenant intends to stay. Find out more about this property investment in King’s Cross today.
In conclusion, different neighbourhoods will appeal to different students. Those who are into the arts scene with pop-up shops and fusion restaurants will enjoy the Shoreditch / Spitalfields area. Those who want leafier surroundings close to museums and concert halls will be attracted to areas such as South Kensington, and those who wish to shop in curated boutique stores, be close to the action and navigate the city with ease will appreciate the convenience of the King’s Cross area.
Speak to One Touch Property to learn more about UK buy to let investments, property investments in London and student property investments in hotspots across the UK. One Touch Property Investment arrange quarterly visits to South Africa to host consultations with South Africans and discuss UK property investments. Contact them today to find out more about UK property investments and their visits to South Africa.
The second of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s annual Investment Conferences kicks off this afternoon at the Sandton Convention Centre. The project is an integral part of a five year plan to generate investment of $100bn by 2023 – which translates into the securing of R300bn a year in annual commitments. The 2019 edition has a mountain to climb.
Helped by hype that accompanies first events of this kind, the 2018 Investment Conference only just managed to hit the annual target. Good news is that implementation has begun on 85% of the R301bn promised last year. Not so good: fresh investors must be found to replace 2018’s major supporters Anglo American (R71bn) and Vodacom (R50bn).
From what we’ve seen, 2019’s official programme lacks a drawcard like last year’s Jack Ma. And although 1,500 “investors and business people” are expected to attend, it’s hard to judge their calibre or depth of pockets. So let’s hope Ramaphosa has a rabbit or two tucked away under his newly acquired Springbok jersey. With Moody’s breathing fire and the 2019 economic growth target slashed by two thirds, SA needs it more than ever.
By SA President Cyril Ramaphosa
As the second South Africa Investment Conference draws to a close, I believe I am speaking on behalf of everyone here when I say we are immensely encouraged by the attendance of so many of us here.
We are also encouraged by the honest and direct statements that have been made by all the participants who spoke either in the plenary sessions or in the breakaway sessions.
But more importantly, we are immensely encouraged as South Africans by the commitments that have been announced here for it is these investments that will have the effect of boosting our country’s economic growth and create much-needed jobs.
I know that companies that made announcements here are ready to move ahead with a renewed sense of determination to turn the investment commitments made here into new business, new jobs and new opportunities.
We are all aware that the global economic environment is weakening, and that you as investors have a vast array of choices on where to take your business, and that we are competing with other emerging markets.
The fact that you have come to this conference, and in such numbers, shows the great faith you have in our country and its potential.
You, like us, are excited by the sheer breadth of opportunities South Africa offers and the potential returns they can deliver.
There is a Confucian proverb that goes:
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
The commitments made at last year’s conference and those made today have placed us firmly on the path to achieve our ambitious target of securing $100bn – R1.2trn over five years.
At the end of our first investment conference last year we had a sense that we carried away many of the small stones from the mountain.
Today our sense of achievement is even much more enhanced as we now are carrying away the big stones from the mountain firmly believing that in the years to come we will be carrying away boulders.
The commitments made today are numerous and diverse. These commitments are a reflection of the diversity of opportunities in the South African economy.
While there has been demonstrable interest in mega-projects, investors are also focusing on smaller, but employment-intensive projects.
This is aligned with our broader strategic vision of catalysing economic activity in our districts, municipalities and provinces.
Our investment drive is taking place in tandem with a range of economic developments – from the opening up of special economic zones, to reviving industrial parks, to supporting community business centres, to creating digital hubs and small business incubators, and to supporting entrepreneurship activities.
I am immensely pleased to announce that the total value of investment commitments made today at our Second South Africa Investment Conference is R363bn.
I repeat: R363bn.
We have received indications of a further R8bn in planned investments that are subject to either regulatory or company board approvals and therefore we have not named the companies here today.
It has been estimated that these investments will conservatively lead to the creation of around 412,000 direct jobs over the next five years.
This does not include the hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs that will be created through allied linkages to these investments.
This commitment of investments amounting to R371bn if you add the R8bn that is still subject to regulatory and board approval processes is 17% higher than the commitments that were made last year.
This is an outstanding achievement and reflects the determination of those companies and associations that have made commitments to invest or further invest in our economy.
This is a clear vote of confidence in the South African economy and a response to what it can offer. But more importantly it is a sign of confidence in the future of our country and the belief that the South African economy is poised for growth going into the future.
I’ve been watching like a fly on the wall as I have seen many of you meeting each other moving from handshake and contact and then to contract.
We want those contracts to be Dollar and Rand denominated contracts that will result in further investments in our economy.
The ties forged at conferences such as this one evidence a determination by the investor community to not only be part of the South African growth story, but also the fortunes of a rising Africa.
As South Africa, we are heartened by these investment commitments as they are a vote of confidence which fills us with determination to push ahead with our bold economic reform agenda.
Read also: Meet the president’s economic advisors
Over the past 18 months we have made inroads. Our gains have been gradual but they have been incremental and noteworthy.
We are confident that they will now gain further traction and momentum following this major demonstration of investment confidence.
After a prolonged period of stagnation, uncertainty and upheaval, we are firmly on the road to recovery.
The recovery we are working for will enable us to address the challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality that is so prevalent in our country.
No country can afford a situation where such a huge proportion of the able workforce is unemployed.
In addition to the huge human toll of unemployment – consigning millions of people to poverty – unemployment constrains economic growth and undermines social stability.
We have demonstrated our ability to implement a tangible economic reform agenda that is yielding results.
With greater investment, with more opportunities for business, enterprise and entrepreneurship, with skills training and knowledge transfer, and with the creation of more jobs for our people, and the empowerment of women, disabled people and young people we can achieve our goal.
Our mission is clear. Our determination is firm.
Failure is not an option for us.
We will not rest until we have restored South Africa’s economy to health.
In closing, I wish to thank those companies whose generous sponsorship has made this conference possible:
We also welcome the support of Coca-Cola and South African Breweries.
I wish to thank all those who have been working on this Conference from the moment we closed our inaugural Investment Conference last year:
Above all, I want to thank all of you for your attendance and participation.
And to our international guests, I trust that you are taking advantage of your presence here to take in the sights and sounds of South Africa, the most beautiful country in the world, before you make the long journey home.
I thank you.
We had a welcome visit yesterday from Jonathan and Wendy, realtors who facilitated the purchase of our new home. I wasn’t surprised to hear Jonathan’s business, Homes of Distinction, is having its best year by some distance. Their pre- and post-sale service has been superb. Hence my reluctance to call them estate agents, a term best suited to the pond life that operates in the UK property sector.
Homes of Distinction’s success is partly testament to rewards accompanying professionalism. But may also have something to do with a quietly creeping confidence in SA. Something increasingly evident for those prepared to look. Especially after learning how to compensate for our species’ hard-wiring that gives nine times more attention to negative news than positive.
If that’s too esoteric for you, consider my low expectations ahead of CR’s second Investment Conference held last week. Yet the President shared in his latest newsletter that commitments of R363bn were received – comfortably surpassing last year’s hype-filled R301bn – and putting his ambitious Five Year R1.2trn Project ahead of target.
Ramaphosa said the most important aspect of the 2019 conference was a surge in investment commitments from South African companies – up two thirds from the R157bn of 2018, to R262bn. He’s nailed it. The world over, offshore investors to look to locals for direction. With SA businesses starting to open the taps at last, a foreign flood cannot be far away. Hope springs.
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