The Fiji National Provident Fund has played a critical role in meeting the immediate needs of Fijians affected by job losses and hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic over the past 18 months. While it meets this critical demand, it has also invested in the digitisation of internal processes, and continues to maintain investment portfolio allowing preservation of assets and capital, ensuring the sustainability and security of member contributions in the future.
As with all its operations, FNPF’s strategies are for the long-term.
FNPF invests with the vision that a member joining today will expect his or her savings to accumulate during his/her working life. The diversity of the Fund’s investment portfolio ensures it is able to earn returns for members under changing market conditions.
“FNPF is reliant on long-term Fiji domestic investments, over investments for the shorter term or in international markets. FNPF’s investment strategy and portfolio is aligned around enhancing Fiji’s economic capability, so that our member numbers grow, as do returns for members,” says Board Chair Daksesh Patel.
In 2020, FNPF investment portfolio grew in value from FJD$7.5 billion in 2019, to $7.9 billion. The impact of COVID-19 on its investments, financial performance and operations have been substantive but manageable, the Fund says.
While FNPF investments in the tourism sector (approximately 8% of its portfolio) have been most affected, investments in other sectors, including telecommunications, health, transport, properties and the financial sector has helped cushion losses felt in the tourism industry.
The Fiji National Provident Fund has 29 properties in its portfolio, with a long-term strategy of acquiring high-quality commercial assets with credit-worthy tenants, and the potential for a wide range of commercial developments.
In Suva, its property portfolio includes FNPF Place, myFNPF Centre, Suva Holiday Inn, Harbour Centre, Downtown Boulevard, Harbour Front, Ganilau House, Victoria Corner, Velop House, Mercury House, the Fiji Revenue and Customs Complex, Kwong Ty Plaza, Grantham Plaza, Vodafone’s headquarters, the Hugh Robinson Complex and the Grand Pacific Hotel.
In the Western division, FNPF’s property holdings are Natadola Beach Resort and Natadola Land Estate, the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Yatule Beach Resort and Fiji Marriott Momi Bay, Provident Centre in Lautoka and the myFNPF Centre in Nadi, which will be opening on December 6th. It also owns the Denarau tourism assets, including the Sheraton Resort, Westin Resort, and the 111-hectare Denarau Golf Course and Golf and Racquet Club.
The FNPF office in Labasa is the Fund’s lone property in Fiji’s northern division.
These are some of Fiji’s most iconic properties. For example, the Grand Pacific Hotel was originally built in 1914, and is Suva’s premier hotel, hosting dignitaries such as British Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their visit to Fiji.
FNPF took full ownership of the GPH in December 2018 after acquiring shares previously held by Papua New Guinea’s National Superannuation Fund (NASFUND) and CGA Properties Limited.
The QBE Insurance Arcade Building in the heart of Suva is another of FNPF’s more recent investments acquired during the early days of the pandemic. Announcing the acquisition, CEO Viliame Vodonaivalu stated that while the Fund was being conservative in its investment approach, it also recognised the investment opportunities that are available in the market. In the case of the QBE building, this included the continued demand for space in Suva city and the stability of the tenancy there.
FNPF’s property investment strategy is ensuring stable returns to landowners as well. In recent years, it handed over a premium of $8.753 million to the i-Taukei Land Trust Board for the reinstatement of an expired lease for the 50 acres of land at Denarau where the Sheraton Fiji Resort and Westin Resort stand.
This enabled the issuance of new 99-year-term leases, effective from January 1st, 2018.
At the time, i-Taukei Land Trust Board General Manager Tevita Kuruvakadua described the move as “something bright” for the three landowning units. “These particular leases have set a new platform for us. It’s locally owned, for the benefit of the members and also we see a lot of potential in the unlocking of value of the land within these two leases.”
With Fiji’s borders reopening to international tourists on December 1st, FNPF is looking forward to seeing its tourism properties buzzing with holiday makers again.
Its investment strategy is committed to supporting Fiji’s tourism and hospitality industry as a critical pillar of the economy.
Last year, FNPF financed major renovation works at Sheraton Fiji Resort and has planned refurbishments for Westin Fiji Resort in the coming year. The Intercontinental in Natadola is also expected to undergo a major upgrade after ten years of operation. The Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) now also manages the Grand Pacific Hotel, with rebranding likely to follow property improvements.