Article posted on : 09/03/2022
2021 Annual Results – Société de la Tour Eiffel sets new orientations
The Board of Directors of Société de la Tour Eiffel, meeting on 9 March 2022, approved the annual and consolidated financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2021. The audit procedures for these financial statements have been completed, and the corresponding reports are in the process of being issued.
Christel Zordan, Chief Executive Officer of Société de la Tour Eiffel, said: “In 2021 we successfully completed the development and disposal plans set out in 2019. These achievements contrasted with the general wait-and-see attitude on the real estate market, which continues to be impacted by the pandemic. However, despite a sustained level of operational activity, with some notable letting successes, the property company, given its size and the decision to leave some buildings vacant for redevelopment, continues to face major letting issues as it seeks to rebuild its capacity to pay dividends. With the unanimous support of the main shareholders, expressed at the presentation of the Board of Directors’ road map on 17 February 2022, I am confident the business can continue its development by transforming its portfolio to focus on the asset classes and locations best adapted to the challenges we face today, able to satisfy tenants and to generate high quality cash flow over the long term. ”
A dynamic year for operations…
- 98% of 2021 rents collected to date
- €8.9m in new leases signed
- Asset value down slightly on like-for-like scope (-1.6%) at €1.80bn
- €20m of projects handed over in 2021
- €79m of disposals carried out, completing the 2019 disposal plan
- LTV still prudent at 37.8%
…to adapt its business model and to prepare its redeployment
- EPRA earnings per share: €1.6
- Recurring cash flow per share: €1.7
- Consolidated net profit: €2.8m (vs €10.7m)
- EPRA NTA per share: €50.9
- EPRA NDV per share: €53.0
- Net Initial Yield EPRA topped-up: 4.0%
- Proposed 2021 dividend of €1.5 per share, in cash
- Net cash: €179m
Another year of living with pandemic and the prospect of climate change
Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Société de la Tour Eiffel has placed the utmost importance on the health and safety of its teams, tenants, clients, service providers and suppliers. We have carried out regular assessments of the impact of the pandemic, and made operational adjustments on a daily basis in light of government guidelines. In particular, the arrangements put in place have been principally aimed at ensuring that our buildings are in good working order and secure, and enabling our teams to work remotely.
At 31 December 2021, we once again consider Covid-19 to have had a limited impact on the company, owing to our business model and the type of commercial buildings in our portfolio.
Société de la Tour Eiffel’s management of the health crisis illustrates its ability to anticipate and adapt to risks while living up to its Corporate Social Responsibility commitments. The Group intends to deploy these same skills in managing the consequences of climate change. Short term, the company’s current exposure looks to be limited, given the type and geographical location of its assets and the regulations in force.
98% of 2021 rents collected
As at the date of this press release, 97.8% of the €85.0m in total rents invoiced in 2021 have already been collected.
This performance was achieved thanks to a property and rental management model that combines a rigorously selective approach with building strong tenant relationships to ensure a high-quality rental portfolio.
Monitoring of tenant risk profiles is carried out using the Coface and Credit Safe databases, and currently indicates that more than 80% of the rental portfolio is in the top two categories (low risk or very low risk), thereby demonstrating its resilience.
Completion of the 2019 disposals plan
Despite the clear slowdown in the investment market generally and the specific circumstances of the remaining assets for sale, often stuck in illiquid markets, the Group successfully completed its 2019 plan for asset disposals. 8 assets were sold for €79m in 2021 and 2 for €27m early 2022, at prices in line with latest appraisal values.
On 31 December 2021, asset value was €1,797m, the portfolio comprising 81% offices (€1,462m), 10% business/logistics premises (€174m), 7% mixed-use premises (€123m), 2% retail (€30m) and a still marginal proportion of managed residences (€7m). All assets are in France, 76% in the Greater Paris area (€1,371m). As part of the initiative to constantly improve the quality of the assets, environmental performance certification has been obtained in respect of 80% of the portfolio.
Completion of the 2019 development plan and new project planning
During the year, Société de la Tour Eiffel completed its 2019 development plan, with three buildings completed. These projects represent investments of €20m and potential annualised rental income of €1.6m, of which €1.1m has already been secured with agreements signed for Bord’eau Village, a mixed-use project of offices/retail space on the banks of the Garonne (Now Coworking, Boardriders) and Kremlin-Bicêtre (Louvre Hotels). The second Hashtag building in Lille, offices completed into April, is currently being marketed.
2021 also saw leases being taken up as planned by the emblematic Orsay development, with IBM and Communauté Paris-Saclay taking occupancy of 12,000 m² in total, and annualised rental income of €2.3m.
As previously announced, the Group is taking advantage of the freeing up of the Lyon Dauphiné, Puteaux Sol’R sites (formerly Olympe) to redevelop them. In Lyon, an application was filed for a building permit to develop an office/co-living building (with 5,000 m² and 5,500 m² for each use, respectively). This building permit was granted at the start of 2022. The latter was secured by the signature of a 12-year off-plan lease agreement (BEFA) with a specialised operator. At Puteaux – on the banks of the Seine – the company completed the pre-approval process and applied for a building permit for the construction of a 9,700 m² office building. This permit was granted at end-December 2021.
For the Aubervilliers site, also recently vacant, a redevelopment plan is being studied, taking into account the specific nature of the site and ongoing discussions. In the meantime, the site will welcome a temporary tenant for two years – Poush, France’s first ever artist incubator project – turning it into an innovative, creative, cultural space which will help project the image of Aubervilliers and the Greater Paris area.
At the Parc du Golf in Aix-en-Provence, a building permit has been obtained for the construction of two office buildings with a total surface area of 3,900 m². The closing date for objections has passed, and these buildings are now being marketed. Lastly, in Bobigny, the Group acquired a plot adjoining their existing land that will allow the site to be redeveloped as an urban logistics project.
These five projects are perfect examples of the property company’s value creation strategy, and will be included in the development plan once all the necessary approvals and permits have been obtained from the administrative authorities. In total, they represent potential rental income of €5.8m, which has been allocated to vacancies on purpose.
Sustained rental activity in a challenging market
Agreements involving annualised rental income totalling €16.3m were signed during the period, both for new leases (€8.9m) and lease renewals (€7.4m). Annualised rent from the rental activity was a net negative -€2.0m, reflecting Altran’s departure from Vélizy at the end of 2021, the announced departure of Poste Immo from Montrouge in 2022 and a substantial reduction in space let to Yokogawa in Vélizy during the year.
Despite a hyper-competitive market that has been hard hit by the pandemic and the resulting delays in the project review process, agreements covering 87,900 m2 have been signed. Letting successes include the signing of a lease for 5,060 m² with NXO at the Citizen building in Rueil-Malmaison, another for 4,860 m² with Technic Atome at the Parc d’Aix-en-Provence and a third for 1 000 m² with M2DG in Paris Enghien. In addition, Inseec, Volvo and Sogitec renewed their commitments, for 7,440 m² in Bordeaux, 3,020 m² at the Parc Eiffel Nanterre Seine, and 4,755 m² at Suresnes, respectively.
As at 31 December 2021, the financial occupancy rate (EPRA) was 75.6% (vs 81.4 % at end-2020) and the average term and firm lease term were 5.5 and 3.0 years, respectively (vs 5.0 et 2.6 years at end-2020). Restated from vacancies on purpose, the occupancy rate becomes 81.5%.
EPRA earnings per share of €1.6 impacted by disposals and vacancies on purpose
On a like-for-like basis and excluding vacancies on purpose, gross rental income fell by -2.2% over the period. Overall, it fell by -8.8%, to €84.7m, due to disposals and vacancies on purpose. Net of charges, rental income declined by -15.2%, in line with the change in the occupancy rate.
Current operating income totalled €51.4m (vs €61.2m). The fall in rental income was partly offset by lower provisions for rents and re-billable charges (-€3.3m vs -€4.9m) and a reduction in overheads (+€0.9m).
Financial expenses totalled €15.5m (vs €17.5m), reflecting improved financing costs and early repayments. The average debt interest rate fell to 1.7% (from 1.8%), underlining the effectiveness of the €330m refinancing (carried out in October 2019), which is benefiting from improved financial conditions thanks to the LTV falling below 40% following the issue of €180m in perpetual subordinated loan instruments (PSL) in June 2020.
After taking into account other income and expenses, taxes and the earnings of companies accounted for using the equity method, EPRA earnings (recurring net profit) stood at €37.7m, or €1.64 per share.
After all EPRA restatement adjustments (allocations, net gains on disposals and changes in the value of financial instruments), consolidated net income was €2.8m, compared with €10.7m in 2020.
Recurring Cash Flow for the period totalled €27.5m, or €1.66 per share (vs €2.30 in 2020).
Slight decline in Net Asset Value
EPRA Net Tangible Asset NAV (NTA) per share declined from €53.0 at end-2020 to €50.9 at end-2021, mainly due to falls in asset values, chiefly due to the fall in occupancy. Liquidation NAV (EPRA NDV is similar to EPRA Triple Net NAV) per share also fell, from €55.0 to €53.0.
Dividend of €1.5 per share
The Board of Directors will propose to the General Meeting of shareholders a dividend of €1.5 per share paid in cash, in line with Recurring Cash Flow per share and reflecting the letting situation, completion of the disposal plan and the earmarking of several sites for redevelopment. This corresponds to a dividend yield of 5.0% and 5.3% calculated on the 2021 average and closing share prices, respectively. This equates to a pay-out of 90.5% of 2021 Current Cash Flow and 91.7% of EPRA earnings.
Having successfully completed the post-merger consolidation of Affine, the Group created a new governance structure to continue its development while adapting to the new property markets issues. The new governance structure will take the company forward from its first growth phase, which began following the takeover by SMA BTP Group, into the new orientations set out in the road map approved by the Board of Directors in February 2022. The governance team now comprises:
- Patrick Bernasconi, appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors in February 2022, having been a director of the property company since 2014 and Chairman of SMAvie BTP since January 2014;
- Christel Zordan, who took up her post as Chief Executive Officer in November 2021;
- Bruno Meyer, reappointed as Deputy Chief Executive Officer in July 2021.
Adapting assets to meet the challenges of today’s property market and society
The ongoing Covid crisis has speeded up social changes already at work in recent years. New aspirations have emerged and are pushing the French to rethink their lifestyle choices to create a better work/life balance. To keep up with these changes, the major metropolises have been promoting an innovative urban model (the quarter-hour city) and strengthening their fundamentals and their appeal. These will naturally become new sources of value and also ways to diversify risk and improve yields.
The needs of the population are changing. New modes of consumption are driving demand for logistics assets, and the ageing population is stoking demand for senior residences. Similarly, the substantial growth of the student population has put fierce pressure on the market for student residences, which basically consists of a stock of often outdated private buildings. In a bid to optimise space, time, energy consumption and shared services, mixed-use developments are going up at city, district and individual building scale.
By initiating its new road map, Société de la Tour Eiffel is addressing these new trends. By adapting its assets, it can become better able to seize the opportunities for yield by taking positions not only in offices, which will of course continue, but also in urban business/logistics premises, business parks, managed residential and mixed-use assets. This decision to diversify will also mean pursuing a bigger presence in the major regional metropolises. The Company will remain aligned with its core business by maintaining two-thirds of its assets in Greater Paris. The target for diversifying out of offices has been set at one third of the asset portfolio.
The Company’s change of direction will be accomplished using several tools: arbitrage of buildings that no longer match the Group’s challenges, internal developments (some already identified others for the future), improved environmental performance of buildings, and investments in assets that are in tune with their market. The transition phase, coming on top of the issues already identified, will squeeze rental income to some extent over the next few years before the full benefits of the new business model come through. It will eventually allow us to rebuild cash flow, by improving occupancy and margins, resulting in a greater ability to pay dividends and a return to sustainable growth for the long term.
- 29 April 2022: General Meeting of Shareholders
- 15 June 2022: Dividend payment
- 27 July 2022: 2022 half-year results (after market close)
The presentation of the results will be available on the Group’s website on the morning of Thursday 10 March: Financial Information – Société Tour Eiffel (societetourieffel.com)
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