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REIT managers are smiling, happy people

Posted by on 29/06/2018

Top address: Circular Quay where DEXUS has announced it plans to upgrade the retail space under the DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund’s Gateway tower. Photo: Brendan Esposito Top address: Circular Quay where DEXUS has announced it plans to upgrade the retail space under the DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund’s Gateway tower. Photo: Brendan Esposito
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Top address: Circular Quay where DEXUS has announced it plans to upgrade the retail space under the DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund’s Gateway tower. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Top address: Circular Quay where DEXUS has announced it plans to upgrade the retail space under the DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund’s Gateway tower. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Tis the season for quarterly reports in the real estate investment trust sector, which also marks the start of the 2014 annual meetings.

Putting the debate about the relevance of AGMs aside for one minute, the REIT chiefs all seem pretty chipper about market conditions.

This is despite the sharemarket turbulence which has hit “safe haven” sectors such as the REITs as hard as general industrial companies and the mining sector.

DEXUS, CFS Retail and Federation Centres, all reported during the week, with the same positive themes of better leasing and sales conditions, permeating the various presentations.

While no chief executive or department head is ever going to be overtly negative, body language, indirect comments and, of course, market performance, are giveaways for bad news.

In the past few years, when the sector and indeed, most of the developed world, was being hit by the financial crisis, the managers were reluctantly agreeing that times were tough.

And even if they didn’t want to admit too much, the leases being signed with high rental incentives and low prices achieved on sales, spoke volumes.

Those days are long gone and, judging by the commentary last week, they aren’t on the horizon.

DEXUS head Darren Steinberg has joined the crowd with preliminary plans to upgrade the retail space under the DEXUS Wholesale Property Fund’s Gateway tower at Circular Quay.

The redevelopment, which also includes the retail space under Grosvenor Place, will be led by Liann Lim, who joined DEXUS from Westfield six months ago as senior development manager, office & city retail.

Ms Lim said the development applications have been lodged for Grosvenor Place, while the plans for Gateway will be lodged with the City of Sydney council in the near term.

Brokers at UBS reckon there are 10 viable repositioning opportunities in the DEXUS portfolio of $1 billion in aggregate book value, where additional value of up to $300 million can be unlocked from an outright sale, rezoning or development.

“Given the majority of these have residential components, and require ongoing expertise, we see it as important for DEXUS to at least have the capability to properly evaluate and negotiate any value at risk, as needed,” the UBS analysts said.

“We note however, that Mr Steinberg CEO stressed, DEXUS would only do this if the incremental development profit was justified. 32 Flinders Street in Melbourne was used a case study, but we believe DEXUS will still divest this asset in the near term upon gaining necessary approvals.”

Equally upbeat was Angus McNaughton, managing director and chief executive  of CFS Retail.

In the past three months the group has launched a new corporate identity, extended the debt-expiry profile, and kicked off a major redevelopment project. There were some non-core asset sales and opening of the four Williams-Sonoma brands to Chatswood Chase Sydney and Uniqlo to Chadstone Shopping Centre.

He forecast was that while the group is cautious on the outlook for retail sales, the directors expect specialty store sales to steadily improve to 3 per cent for the direct portfolio over the 2015 financial year.

Steven Sewell, chief executive of Federation Centres, was also happy, saying all categories recorded an improvement, with the increase in growth in the mini majors and specialties categories reflecting the group’s active remixing initiatives.

He added there had been a strategic realignment and uplift in the quality of the portfolio through acquisitions both from the syndicate business and from external parties.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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