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Hammerson PLC (HMSO)

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Tuesday 03 November, 2009

Hammerson PLC

Interim Management Statement

RNS Number : 8101B
Hammerson PLC
03 November 2009
 



For immediate release 3 November 2009


Interim Management Statement for the period from 1 July 2009 to 3 November 2009 


David Atkins, Chief Executive said:

"The period has seen a degree of confidence return to property markets, with increased levels of investment activity leading to a firming of UK property yields. In France, we have also seen encouraging levels of transactions, albeit from a low base. This has been an active period for Hammerson in which we have completed a number of property sales and made good progress on lettings in a difficult market environment. We continue to advance the development pipeline and are actively considering both property acquisitions and investment within our existing portfolio."



Investment markets

 

Improvements in global financial markets, increased economic activity and low interest rates have helped to increase demand for commercial property in the UK and France. In France, transaction levels have increased but remain low in absolute terms. In the UK a higher level of transactions has led to downward pressure on yields and consequently evidence of improving valuations. However, the market outlook remains uncertain, due in part to the high level of property debt which needs to be refinanced over the next few years.


Occupational markets

 

The operating environment for retailers in the UK has remained challenging, although in recent months consumer confidence has increased and fewer retailers have gone into administration. There continues to be downward pressure on retail rents, although this has been less marked for prime property and in locations where vacancy levels are low. In France, despite falling retail sales, the level of vacant space remains low, which has helped sustain rental levels.

 

In London and Paris confidence is returning to the financial and business services sectors. In conjunction with lower rental levels this has led to improved demand for office space. In London there are signs that, despite the high level of vacancy, net effective rents are stabilising. 


Operational update


We successfully opened Union Square, our major shopping centre development in Aberdeen, on 29 October. Over 230,000 people visited the centre in its first four days of trading. We were pleased to open the scheme with 76% of the rental income let or in solicitors' hands. Union Square has attracted expanding international retailers including: Apple; Hollister, an Abercrombie & Fitch brand; Vero Moda and Zara. Other well-known occupiers include: Cult; H&M; Marks & Spencer; New Look and Next. The scheme was awarded a BREEAM Very Good environmental rating.


At 125 Old Broad Street in the City of London, 92% of the income is now let or in solicitors' hands. At the adjacent office building, 60 Threadneedle Street, this figure is now 83% following recent lettings to Berenberg Bank, Toronto Dominion Bank and Universities Superannuation Scheme.


At Fife Central Retail Park in Kirkcaldy, we completed an 11,000 m² extension which is fully let to tenants including B&Q, Mothercare and Toys R Us. 


In line with our aim to refresh our shopping centres with new brands, we have signed leases with a number of major retailers providing a point of difference for consumers. Banana Republic will open its second UK store at Brent Cross, London; Jamie's Italian, a Jamie Oliver branded restaurant, will open at The Oracle, Reading; and Vero Moda and Jack & Jones have taken a unit at Highcross, Leicester.


Occupancy in the Group's retail portfolio improved slightly to 95.6% at 30 September (30 June: 95.2%), however the overall occupancy rate in the Group's investment portfolio was marginally lower at 92.4% (30 June: 92.6%), reflecting the expiry of a lease to a major office tenant in Paris


The total income from tenants in administration has reduced to £7.0 million per annum at 30 September (30 June 2009: £8.4 million), or 2.3% of the group's total passing rent. In our retail portfolio, 69 units out of a total of approximately 1,600 in the UK were let to tenants in administration, and of these, 36 are still trading. In France, there were 21 retail units in administration with 16 units still trading. Our rent collection record remains strong, with over 95% of the rent due at the end of September collected within 14 days.


We continue to recycle capital where appropriate. In the period we completed the sales of Forum Steglitz, our last remaining property in Germany, Seacourt retail park in Oxford, and two retail parks in France, raising an aggregate £122 million.


Following the completion of Union Square, our major construction projects have now been completed. However, we continue to make good progress on our development pipeline through site assembly, planning and design. This should enable us to benefit from new developments as market conditions improve. In Paris, we expect to start a redevelopment of our retail property on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in early 2010 at a cost of around £30 million. 


Financing


Borrowings were £2,195 million at 30 September 2009 and cash balances were £96 million to give net debt of £2,099 million (30 June: £2,061 million).


Undrawn committed bank facilities at 30 September 2009 totalled £752 million, with only £119 million due to mature by December 2011. 


Conference call

There will be a conference call for investors and analysts at 08.00 GMT today. To participate in the call, please dial:

UK

08081090700

UK Local

0203 037 9060

International

+44 (0) 203 037 9060

US

1 866 966 5335 

Netherlands

0 800 022 9132

France

0805 630061



For a replay of the conference call, please visit: www.hammerson.com


For further information




David Atkins, Chief Executive


Simon Melliss, Group Finance Director


Morgan Bone, Director of Corporate Communications

Tel: 020 7887 1000


Tel: 020 7887 1000


Tel: 020 7887 1009 

morgan.bone@hammerson.com


Financial information


The financial information contained in this statement is based on unaudited management accounts for the three months ended 30 September 2009.


Forward-looking statements


This document contains certain statements that are neither reported financial results nor other historical information. These statements are forward-looking in nature and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Actual future results may differ materially from those expressed in or implied by these statements. Many of these risks and uncertainties relate to factors that are beyond Hammerson's ability to control or estimate precisely, such as future market conditions, currency fluctuations, the behaviour of other market participants, the actions of governmental regulators and other risk factors such as the Company's ability to continue to obtain financing to meet its liquidity needs, changes in the political, social and regulatory framework in which the Company operates or in economic or technological trends or conditions, including inflation and consumer confidence, on a global, regional or national basis. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this document. Hammerson does not undertake any obligation to publicly release any revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this document. Information contained in this document relating to the Company should not be relied upon as a guide to future performance.




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