Newly-formed property development and management firm, Icon Properties Limited, says it has invested over K50 billion and plans to list on the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) before the year ends.
The firm, which was born after restructuring property companies in the MSE-listed Nico Holdings group portfolio as well as through a collaborative process with other property investors, was incorporated in Malawi on June 4 2018 and converted to a public limited company on October 11 this year.
Its shareholding comprises 16 firms with Nico Life Insurance Company Limited, Standard Bank Pension Fund and National Bank of Malawi Pension Fund, owning 63.17 percent, 10.33 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.
Nico Holdings plc group managing director Vizenge Kumwenda told journalists in Blantyre yesterday that the firm will now proceed to develop and acquire other properties to grow.
“This follows the realisation on the part of Nico Holdings plc that on the market, there is need for a vehicle that can champion infrastructure development. We are looking at properties of various types; shopping malls, offices and industrial buildings in all the commercial centres in Malawi.
“To give opportunity to investors out there, including retail investors and indeed ordinary Malawians to participate in this journey, we decided to make it public. We would want it to list on MSE where everyone can have an opportunity of holding shares in the company and the process has since started. We are expecting the listing to happen before the end of this year,” he said.
The firm comes against the backdrop of decreasing demand for high-quality space due to low purchasing power despite a stable economic environment characterised by low inflation and interest rates and stable exchange rate, according to property management firm Knight Frank Africa 2017/18 report.
However, Kumwenda said regardless of the behaviours of interest rates or stability of the exchange rate, there will always be room for the property market.
“Every time something is expensive, it is an indication that there is a short supply and in that context, as Icon, we want to increase availability of good buildings. The property market has a bright future in Malawi, especially that Malawi is still developing and has a long way to go,” he said.
In an interview, Minority Shareholders general secretary Frank Harawa welcomed the development, saying the move will allow Malawians to participate in the development of the economy through their activities at the stock market.
Earlier, Knight Frank Malawi managing director Don Whayo observed that it will take time for the property market to peak.
Icon Properties has 35 properties valued at K50.04 billion with a total lettable area of 72 630 square metres.
Some of its properties it owns include Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre, Lilongwe City Mall, which houses Game Stores, among others, and Kang’ombe House in Lilongwe.