/ 25 October 2019

Responsible partnerships

Safs Narker
Safs Narker, chief investment officer and head of equities for Vunani Fund Managers and portfolio manager of the TRSF. (Photo: Ayanda Ndamane)



With the futures of over 75 000 drivers and their families invested in the Transport Sector Retirement Fund (TSRF), responsible partnerships are essential to the core of its business.

The TSRF also recognises the need to support a transformation agenda in achieving its investment objectives, and one of its partners is Vunani Fund Managers. This entity has secured a differentiated market positioning through its commitment to BEE and maintaining a management team of the highest calibre.

“As a valued client of Vunani Fund Managers, we are proud to be associated with such a prestigious organisation,” says Safs Narker, chief investment officer, head of equities and portfolio manager of TSRF. “Vunani Fund Managers endeavour to provide the fund with consistent and incremental out-performance of the benchmark over a long-term period.”

Vunani believes that introducing social responsible investment (SRI) considerations into its business and investment decisions is essential to creating value for its stakeholders.

“Our corporate social investment initiatives are paramount to our business and central to the Vunani Group’s philosophy of contributing to society,” continues Narker. “As such, we have incorporated the principles of sustainability in our SRI policy and are committed to integrating environmental, social and governance issues into our investment analysis and decision-making processes.”

Small teams

Established in 1999, Vunani Fund Managers is a boutique asset management company that provides a broad suite of investment solutions for institutional clients. The organisation has demonstrated a strong investment capability across multiple domestic and foreign asset classes.

“We believe that our success is dependent on establishing lasting client relationships. We therefore focus our energy on delivering the risk-managed investment returns sought by our clients in each area via small teams of highly experienced and focused investment professionals.

“We provide a focused range of funds to institutional clients and operate from a solid research foundation that is supported by rigorous systems development and stringent stress testing of our systems over many years.”

Narker says Vunani Fund Managers mission is to build an organisation that serves each client’s mandated objectives as well as providing skills and a supportive environment where its people can continue to upskill themselves. This has led to Vunani Fund Managers developing a programme of mentorship and continuing education for all members of staff towards to help them achieve and grow.

“We believe that this environment cultivates the passion, dedication and determination required in order to contribute positively to serving our clients, including the TSRF,” concludes Narker.

Investment into a national brand

Four years ago, the Transport Sector Retirement Fund (TSRF) determined that good quality truck stop facilities are sorely lacking along South Africa’s major routes. In recognition of the fact that by far the majority of TSRF’s members are truck drivers, the TSRF launched a responsible investment strategy to develop and build more truck stops to ensure that its members and those of broader transport community are able to park and sleep safely, plus have access to quality refuelling, accommodation, nutritional and primary healthcare facilities.

Three years ago, the chief executive of the Highway Group, Ben Deysel, and the TSRF started to negotiate the formation of a joint venture partnership. This was the first step in executing the TSRF’s truck stop investment strategy, which has proven to be successful.

The cost to acquire 50% of the shareholding of the Harrismith Highway Junction Truck Stop was R55-million. An internal rate of return (IRR) of 26% has been consistently achieved. With the introduction of the multi-brand strategy (Engen, BP and Total on site) and the expansion of parking facilities, the fund expects a revised IRR of 30%.

Efficient hubs

Through this 50/50 joint venture, the facilities at Highway Junction were upgraded and expanded.

“Our aim is to create efficient and safe transport hubs along our major routes. We believe the development of this national brand will create a strong, recognisable identity which endorses standards and regulations that support the transport and logistics industry,” explains TSRF’s principal officer, Joe Letswalo.

“The Highway Group-TSRF partnership has opened up new opportunities and allowed for the expansion of truck stop facilities. The joint venture has promising prospects which will strengthen the brand and improve conditions in the transport sector, especially for drivers.”

The TSRF, through its Truck Stop Fund, has already earmarked sites for development in Cape Town, East London, Colesberg, Klerksdorp and Musina for further truck stop developments. The TSRF Truck Stop Fund is raising around R3-billion for the development of truck stops throughout the country. Sites are expected to be completed during 2020/2021.