Topland Group: Annual Chairman's Statement

Author: Topland | Date: 09 Feb 2018

February 2018

Topland Group, one of Europe's largest privately-owned international investment groups, has issued its latest Annual Chairman's Statement.

Commenting on the group's diversified activities including property investment, development, hotel management, healthcare and structured finance, Sol Zakay, Executive Chairman and CEO, said: "With a very clear vision and strategy across a wide range of sectors, we have continued on a positive growth path during 2017.  For 2018 and beyond we will continue to focus on our core areas of expertise, remain open to collaboration with best-in-class partners and trust our entrepreneurial culture to deliver new opportunities in an evolving market.

Over the past year our commercial property portfolio has continued to produce good results due to significant letting activity.  We have been divesting assets where we have implemented and completed our asset management plans, such as Harbourside Bristol for a record £95.5m.  We remain committed to acquiring new buildings opportunistically such as multi-let offices and industrial across the UK where we can add value through our management, financial or development expertise - an example being the acquisition of Glasgow's The Athanaeum building.  2018 will also see the team keen to invest in other niche real estate sectors such as land plays, residential portfolios, serviced offices and student accommodation.

Topland's structured finance division is now a well-established alternative lender with an ability to complete bridging loans swiftly and efficiently.  Total lending activity went through the £1bn barrier, having issued some £300m of new loans during 2017. While continued market uncertainty surrounding Brexit has seen this market contract, we remain committed to future lending activity via a range a senior, mezzanine and preferred equity finance.

Our diversification into the healthcare sector continued apace during 2017 with Topland Henley Healthcare Investments Limited making over £100m of investments.  We plan to deploy a further £250m of capital during the coming year, bringing our overall investment into the sector to just over £600m and will continue to focus on the acquisition of singular and portfolio based residential assets.

In 2017, Topland continued to build upon its historic track record in hotel investment and operation.  All our 27 directly operated hotels have now been packaged under the Hallmark portfolio via development or acquisition.  This should cement Topland's position as one of the fastest-growing operators in the UK's mid-market sector.

Our flagship hotel investment, the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, has had an outstanding year both in terms of critical acclaim and commercial performance and remains one of the group's flagship assets.

As a group we are proud of our credentials as a joint venture partner, in which we can match our development and financing expertise with entrepreneurial partners in niche real estate sectors.  Along with our joinng venture partner, Cole Waterhouse, we are delivering a flagship £100m, 682 bed student campus in Wembley in time for the 2019/20 academic year.  We also closed the year by launching a strategic land company with the Generator Group to buy large unconsented parcels of land across the South of England.  I remain keen to deploy further venture capital to partners who have the experience and opportunity, but not the equity.

Our business model ensures that we will always have significant cash reserves available to deploy within the right opportunities present themselves.  This, alongside the quality and depth of in-house expertise, means that Topland will remain an active participant across the entire commercial real estate spectrum.