SOUTH AFRICA: Fortress launches bonds for 5.8 MWp of solar power

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SOUTH AFRICA: Fortress launches bonds for 5.8 MWp of solar power© Fortress

Listed property investment company Fortress is issuing sustainable bonds with a total value of almost $70 million. The company will use the funds to install solar photovoltaic systems for its property assets in South Africa.

The sustainable bonds launched by Fortress REIT are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The property investment company is issuing two bonds. The first is a three-year bond of 495 million South African rand ($33.5 million). The second, with a five-year rating, aims to raise R405 million ($27.4 million).

“While the bonds do not have specific usage requirements, the funds will help Fortress to continue to install and scale up solar power in South Africa across its retail and logistics portfolios,” says the Johannesburg-based company. Specifically, the first bond will finance the installation of 2.2MWp of solar photovoltaic panels by June 2022. The second issue will install 3.6 MWp of solar systems by June 2024.

Gaining autonomy from Eskom

In total, the transaction will provide Fortress REIT with a new installed capacity of 5.8 MWp. Solar power will thus enable its property assets to meet their solar energy targets, facilitate the reduction of dependence on the state-owned utility Eskom’s grid and reduce their carbon footprint.

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“Sustainability bonds are increasingly being used around the world as a source of financing for renewable energy development, designed with compliance requirements and measurable economic returns for investors, while mitigating climate change. We are inspired by the opportunity to use our real estate assets in a way that can have a significant impact in the years to come,” says Ian Vorster, Fortress REIT’s CFO.

Reducing the carbon footprint of property

The company, led by Steven Brown, has an extensive property portfolio in South Africa. For logistics, the company manages several priorities, mainly in the Gauteng and Western Cape provinces. Fortress also has commercial, industrial and office properties in several provinces in Nelson Mandela’s country. The property company is now working to solarise these, with an installed capacity of 4.735 MWp from 10 sites. This will be increased to 10.7MWp by 2024, thanks to the bonds listed on the JSE.

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“The confidence shown by investors to raise these funds and enable Fortress to continue the work we have started in solar power projects is very encouraging for us. It further demonstrates the commitment we have to our tenants, surrounding communities, shareholders and stakeholders to accelerate the progress we have made on the ESG front,” said Steven Brown. Fortress joins other South African companies that have gone solar to increase their energy self-sufficiency while reducing their electricity bills.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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