Nepi Rockcastle resumes paying dividends again
CAPE TOWN - NEPI ROCKCASTLE, owner of leading shopping centres in central and Eastern Europe (CEE), paid out a 16.88 euro cents (R2.98) dividend for the second half 2020 despite experiencing its most challenging year.
At a time when some listed Reits are not paying dividends due to Covid-19 related uncertainties, the group said the dividend was in line with its policy of paying out at least 90 percent of distributable earnings, while at the same time allowing the company to retain some capital as reserve.
The dividend was 38 percent lower than the 27.31 euro cents per share declared for the six months ended December 31, 2019. No dividend was declared in the six month to June 30, 2020, but shares were allotted to shareholders instead.
Net rental and related income fell 19.4 percent to €322.96 million. Distributable earnings fell 30 percent to €232.42m.
“Most of the tenants had to close their shops for long periods of time, first during spring and again to a lesser extent in the fourth quarter. Faced with a sudden drop in business, our tenants sought and received our support to get them through lockdowns. This had a strong impact on the results we are reporting for 2020,” said chief executive Alex Morar.
He said the year had also confirmed the robustness of the business model, and the smooth and safe running of operations, with adequate levels of liquidity and capital, had continued throughout.
The Nepi Rockcastle team had adapted quickly to the challengers and new ways of working, including over 6 000 successful negotiations with tenants over seven months. The income-generating capacity was kept intact and occupancy was firm at 95.7 percent. The collection rate for the year was 95 percent as at year end, and had risen since then.
Tenant mix was improved and extended with new brands and categories. Investment to refurbish, extend and develop new properties also continued.
Capital and liquidity was preserved and enhanced. The loan-to-value ratio stood at a “comfortable” 31.5 percent by year end, and liquidity resources stood at €1.2 billion.
The business model was being adapted to capitalise on changes in retail.