When asked to describe himself in one word, Izak Petersen said simply: “Determined.” This is evident in his dealings as CEO of the influential REIT, Dipula Income Fund. In 2011, Dipula merged with Mergence Africa Property Fund, and has since seen immense growth in wealth and assets. We set out to find out more about the man behind the fund.
Current position: CEO Dipula Income Fund
Books currently reading: Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight
Life motto: Go for it.
Petersen was born in the Free State, grew up in the Eastern Cape, and spent his young adult years in the Western Cape. For the past 12 years, he’s lived in Gauteng. “It’s been tough choosing a provincial team in rugby,” he quipps. Petersen completed his high school career at Breidbach Secondary School, before going to UWC and UCT to study accounting and qualify as a CA. “I would be nowhere without education. The CA qualification gave me wide exposure to business across sectors and I had the privilege of, at the end of my training, having opportunities and choices,” he says.
Q: Give us some background on your business career
A: My career started with articles at one of the large accounting firms I worked for in South Africa and had a stint with in the United States. I then returned to South Africa and worked for a mid-tier investment bank and subsequently a boutique asset manager. After that, I co-founded Mergence Africa holdings – A financial services company that invested in property amongst other things. We started the Mergence Africa Property Fund which went into the formation of Dipula Income Fund which I’m now heading up.
Q: How did you first become involved in property?
A: I was first exposed to property during my auditing days and then again when I
was in investment banking. I fell in love with it and wanted more. That led to
the formation of Mergence, more than 14 years ago.
Q: What do you think makes a great property investment?
A: Property, like most investments, is all about capital gains and yield/income.
One needs to pick properties with growth potential, in the right locations. My best
property investment principles would be to buy well, manage brilliantly,
and have an exit plan.
Q: What is your vision for Dipula into the future?
A: Dipula has done excellently for its investors, and we’ve been very consistent
in delivering growth while improving our portfolio. Our aim is to continue to focus
on South Africa, grow sensibly and prudently. Our portfolio is currently worth
about R8.5 billion and our market cap is around R5 billion. We want to double our
market cap in the next 3 years, so that we provide our investors with much
needed liquidity in our shares.
Q: What other opportunities do you foresee in the future of the South African property industry?
Good performance of property is dependent on a robust and growing economy.
I foresee a difficult short to medium term, but do believe that the challenging
environment will be embedded with abundant opportunities for those that think
outside the box. We intend to take advantage of the challenge.
Petersen is a firm believer in hard work and putting the hours into what you want
to achieve. Offering insights to aspiring investors, he explains: “What you
put in is what you get out. Pair your smartness with hard work and the right ethics
and things will come together.”
His own career highlights have been varied, from starting out and qualifying as a
CA, to starting his career in investment banking and eventually starting his own
business and listing a property fund. Despite this – and that property fund’s stellar
performance – Petersen says that he doesn’t consider himself a success just yet:
“That’s still a work in progress.”
Izak Petersen’s thoughts on life
Life Philosophy: Nothing happens by accident – if you want it, go for it!
Favourite quote: “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot
change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw
One thing I’d like to do to make an impact in the world: I’d start at home and be part of shaping the South Africa we all dream of, in whatever small way I can.