The property firm owned by the Duke of Westminster — member of one of Britain’s wealthiest families — this week made its first investment in sub-Saharan Africa, BricPlusNews reported.
Led by the Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, Sixth Duke of Westminster, the Grosvenors had a net worth of about $11.6 billion US in 2014, making them Britain’s wealthiest family at the time, according to the Forbes rich list, TheMirror reported.
The duke is he U.K.’s richest landlord, according to Forbes. Although his fortune is down a little due to the weaker pound, he continues to benefit from London’s improving real estate market.
The Grosvenor Group has owned most of London’s upscale Mayfair and Belgravia districts since 1677, according to BricNewsPlus.
Now they’re investing in RMB Westport, a real estate development firm with offices in six African countries including South Africa and Mauritius. RMB Westport targets Nigeria, Ghana, Angola and the Ivory Coast.
RMB stands for South Africa-based Rand Merchant Bank. RMB Westport was formed in 2008 when Rand Merchant Bank, through its real estate investment banking division, entered into a joint venture with the Westport Property Group to become RMB Westport.
The Grosvenors are betting on African cities for big returns. RMB Westport plans to develop shopping centers, office buildings and industrial assets in urban centers, BricNewsPlus reported.
“RMB Westport’s city-focused approach is aligned with ours, and we are confident that the strength of their local knowledge and their proven track record in the region will deliver strong risk-adjusted returns for the business,” said Chris Taite, investment director of Grosvenor Group, according to BricsNewsPlus.
This will be a good opportunity for Grosvenor to gain exposure to a growing market in a region that lacks high-grade retail, industrial and office space, he said.
More than 65 African cities have a population of more than 1 million, and about 500 million Africans live in urban areas, according to U.N. Habitat. Demand exceeds supply in Africa’s developing consumer market so there are opportunities for strong returns, according to the report.
Grosvenor’s new investment is part of a $7.98 billion international development pipeline. The company has sold about $348 million of property.
Grosvenor now owns $8.7 billion of property across the U.S., Asia Pacific and U.K. Before-tax profits in 2014 were a record-breaking $988 million.
The privately owned Grosvenor Group owns real estate on five continents and reports almost $20 billion in assets under management, according to Forbes. The Sixth Duke of Westminster owns 190 acres in Belgravia — one of London’s most expensive neighborhoods, located next to Buckingham Palace. His family also owns 96,000 acres in Scotland, thousands more acres in other parts of England, and 32,000 acres in Spain.