Article posted on : 28/07/2021
Société de la Tour Eiffel announces the appointment of new CEO Christel Zordan and presents its 2021 half-year results
Société de la Tour Eiffel announces the appointment of new CEO Christel Zordan
The Board of Directors, meeting today under the chairmanship of Didier Ridoret, has modified the composition of the Company’s Executive Management. In accordance with the statutory provision and on proposal of the Appointments and Compensation Committee, the Board appointed Christel Zordan as Chief Executive Officer for a term ending in 2024 at the General Meeting called to approve the 2023 financial statements. She will take up her post by the end of 2021.
On proposal of the new Chief Executive Officer, the Board of Directors also decided to reappoint Bruno Meyer as Deputy CEO for the same term.
The Board of Directors of Société de la Tour Eiffel, which met on 28 July 2021, approved the financial statements as at 30 June 2021. The audit procedures for these financial statements have been completed, and the corresponding reports are in the process of being issued.
“I am delighted to hand over the management of our property company to a such experienced property professional whose track record in a string of strategic roles will ensure achieving our ambitious goals. Christel Zordan, working closely with the Board of Directors and with the seasoned support of Bruno Meyer, will build on Société de la Tour Eiffel’s solid fundamentals. This change pertains to the new dynamic wished by shareholders” said Didier Ridoret, Chairman of Société de la Tour Eiffel.
Christel Zordan began her career in 2001 at PwC Corporate Finance. In 2006, she joined the investment teams at GE Real Estate France and later moved on to similar roles at Bouwfonds REIM in 2010.
In 2011, Christel became Head of Transactions and Financing at Compagnie de Phalsbourg before expanding her brief to become group CFO. In 2014, she helped develop the Altafund business property investment fund as its Head of Investments, and took part in various other business property transactions for the Altarea Cogedim group. She took over as Head of France for Nuveen Real Estate in 2017 and doubled the assets under management by the US Asset Manager’s French arm. A HEC graduate (majoring in Entrepreneurs), Christel also belongs to a number of professional networks, such as the Cercle des Femmes de l’Immobilier, the Cercle 30 and the Urban Land Institute.
Bruno Meyer, 62, has been Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Société de la Tour Eiffel since September 2018.
He holds a DECS post-graduate accounting degree and began his career in the Financial Department of the French Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique. He left to run the Européenne de Banque’s Accounting Inspectorate, then did the same job for CIC Paris. In 1992, he joined UIS, a listed credit institution specialising in corporate real estate finance, where he worked in various roles including Head of Accounts. After US firm General Electric bought UIS in 1998, Bruno Meyer became CFO for GE Real Estate France, then from 2000-2004, Head of Management Control for GE Real Estate Europe. In early 2005, as Chief Financial Officer, he participated in the creation and initial public offering of listed property company CBoTerritoria. From 2008 to 2010, he was CFO of Eurosic. He then worked as Deputy General Manager of Silic before joining Société de la Tour Eiffel in 2014.
Bruno Meyer, Deputy Managing Director of Société de la Tour Eiffel, commented: “Our performance in the first half of 2021 contrasted with the real estate market general sitting on the fence attitude, due to the pandemic impacts. Our operational activity remains steady, thanks to rental successes, the completion of the current phase of developments, the preparation and planning of forthcoming developments and the finalisation of our disposal plan. Despite the uncertainties of the period, we are resolutely pursuing our growth objectives, while preparing for the refocusing of the property company that will accompany the next stage of our strategic roadmap. Tenant satisfaction and the generation of sustainable, high-quality cash flow remain our priorities and the key factors for our success.”
A very dynamic six months in operational terms…
- 96% of H1 2021 rents collected to date
- €4.4m in new leases signed
- Value of the asset portfolio stable (-0.5%) at €1.84bn
- €20m of projects completed in H1 2021, ending the current investment pipeline
- Planning of our new developments in Greater Paris and regions with potential now at an advanced stage
- €29m in disposals carried out as part of our strategic refocusing on 100% office property
- LTV of 39.5%
…contributing to our consolidation based on an effective business model, aiming at its redeployment
- EPRA earnings per share: €1.0
- Recurring cash flow per share: €1.0
- Consolidated net profit: -€0.4m (vs €13.4m)
- Net capital gain on disposals: €12.6m
- Going-concern NAV (NTA) per share: €51.0
- Liquidation NAV (NDV) per share: €53.0
- Net Initial Yield EPRA topped-up: 4.2%
- 2020 dividend payout of €2.0 per share, in cash, unchanged from 2019
- Current treasury: €152m
Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Group 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 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 from home.
As at 30 June, the impact of the crisis on the Group is once again deemed to be limited in relation to the activity and type of commercial property.
96% of H1 2021 rents collected
As at the date of this press release, out of a total of €44.0m in invoiced rents for the first half of 2021, 96.4% has already been collected. Moreover, out of a total of €89.3m in rents for 2020, 98.2% has now been collected, up from 96.3% at the time our annual results were published.
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.
A 100% office strategy, with a focus on multi-tenant and green-certified buildings
Société de la Tour Eiffel is continuing its strategic refocusing, with an increasing emphasis on its core market segments. Its portfolio mainly consists of multi-tenant office buildings in thriving locations that can attract any type of tenant.
Despite the overall slowdown in the investment market and the particular situation of the assets in the disposal plan, which are often located in somewhat illiquid markets, the Group has succeeded in selling three assets for €29m and signed three provisional sale agreements for €33m, broadly in line with the most recent appraisal value.
As at 30 June 2021, the value of the asset portfolio stood at €1,844m, with offices making up 91% (€1,682m) and mixed office/retail premises at 4% (€74m). 75% of assets are located in Greater Paris (€1,386m) and 20% in regional cities with potential (€371m) (Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Toulouse). As part of the initiative to constantly improve the quality of the assets, environmental performance certification has been obtained in respect of 74% of the portfolio.
On a like-for-like basis, and after investments (€8.2m in capex and €6.5m for developments), the value of the asset portfolio showed good resilience over the period (-0.5%, from €1,853m as at 31 December 2020).
Completion of existing developments and establishment of a new pipeline
In the first six months of the year, Société de la Tour Eiffel ended its 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 (Now Coworking, Boardriders) and Kremlin-Bicêtre (Louvre Hotels). The second Hashtag building in Lille, which was completed in April, is currently being marketed.
The first half of 2021 also saw leases being taken up as planned on the emblematic Orsay development, with IBM and Communauté Paris-Saclay occupying 12,000 m², representing annualised rental income of €2.3m.
As previously announced, the Group is taking advantage of the Lyon Dauphiné, Puteaux Olympe and Aubervilliers sites releases to redevelop them. In Lyon, an application was made for a building permit to develop an office/co-living building (5,000 m² and 5,500 m² respectively). The latter was secured by the signature of a 12-year off-plan lease agreement (BEFA) with a specialised operator. For the Puteaux site – on the banks of the Seine – the Group has completed the pre-approval process and applied for a building permit for the construction of a 9,700 m² office building. In light of the specific nature of the Aubervilliers site, plans for the redevelopment work are still being defined and discussions are in progress. Lastly, a building permit for the construction of two office buildings with a total surface area of 3,900 m² has been obtained for the Parc du Golf in Aix-en-Provence. The closing date for objections has passed, and these buildings are now being marketed.
These four 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 annualised rental income of €5.6m, which has been allocated to strategic vacancies.
Sustained rental activity in a challenging market
Agreements involving annualised rental income totalling €7.2m were signed during the period, both for new leases (€4.4m) and lease renewals (€2.5m). Impacted by the departure of Atos from Aubervilliers and a significant reduction in surfaces currently occupied by Yokogawa in Vélizy, the net balance of rental activity came to -€3.2m in annualised rental income, or -€0.1m taking into account the amount allocated for strategic vacancies.
Despite a hyper-competitive market that has been hard hit by the pandemic and the resulting delays in the project review process, agreements covering 45,900 m2 have been signed. Most notable among these successes were the agreements signed with Technic Atome for the Parc d’Aix-en-Provence (4,860 m²) and Now Connected for the Tour Lilleurope (1,100 m²). In addition, Inseec and Volvo renewed their commitments, for 7,440 m² in Bordeaux and 3,020 m² at the Parc Eiffel Nanterre Seine, respectively.
Meanwhile, Altran has given notice to end its tenancy of 14,000 m² in the Topaz building in Velizy, as expected as part of its integration into Capgemini. The premises, which represent annualised rental income of €3.2m, will be vacated at the end of 2021. This will enable the building to be repositioned as a multi-tenant property, in line with the Group’s rental strategy.
As at 30 June 2021, the financial occupancy rate (EPRA) was 77.3% (vs 81.4% at end-2020), and the average firm lease term was 2.8 years. Restated for strategic vacancies, the occupancy rate becomes 82.8%.
EPRA earnings per share of €1.0 impacted by disposals and strategic vacancies
On a like-for-like basis and excluding strategic vacancies, gross rental income increased by 0.5% over the period. Overall, it decreased by 4.0%, to €45.1m, due to disposals and strategic vacancies. Net of charges, rental income declined by 6.4%, in line with the change in the occupancy rate.
Current operating income totalled €29.9m (vs €30.8m). The decrease in rental income was partly offset by a reduction in operating costs (+€0.7m). Net risk was broadly unchanged, with an impact of -€0.2m over the period.
Financial expenses totalled €7.3m (vs €8.8m), reflecting lower borrowing costs and early repayments. The average debt interest rate fell to 1.6% (from 1.8%), underlining the performance of the €330m refinancing (carried out in October 2019), which is benefiting from improved financial conditions thanks to the LTV brought below 40% following the issue of perpetual subordinated debt instruments (PSL).
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 €22.4m, or €1.04 per share.
With the reintegration of all EPRA restatement adjustments (allocations, profit on disposals and changes in the value of financial instruments), consolidated net income was -€0.4m, compared with €13.4m in H1 2020.
Recurring cash flow for the period totalled €16.2m, or €0.97 per share (vs €1.26 in H1 2020).
Slight decline in Net Asset Value
Going-concern NAV (EPRA Net Tangible Assets) per share fell from €53.0 to €51.0 at 30 June 2021, mainly due to the dividend distribution. Liquidation NAV (EPRA NDV is similar to EPRA Triple Net NAV) per share also fell, from €55.0 to €53.0.
Substantial room for manoeuvre to withstand new challenges
The property company’s 100% office business model has continued to show resilience in this second financial year marked by Covid-19 crisis. Given the unprecedented scale of the pandemic and the uncertainty over when it will end, caution is required in estimating its consequences into the future. However, according to calculations made at the end of the period (as at year-end 2020), tenants identified as being “high” and “very high” risk, due to their exposure to the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, still represent less than €3.7m in annual rental income (excluding assets in the process of being sold). No significant payment issues were reported on rent calls in the first half of 2021, when the rent collection rate was 96.4%.
Based on rigorous management, the Group is making resolute progress towards achieving its objectives: refocusing its asset portfolio in strategic areas, improving occupancy rates, securing its revenue, establishing a new development pipeline and generating capacity for future growth.
The financial resources resulting from the €180m increase in equity in June 2020, still enable the Group to strongly cope with the various challenges of this difficult economic environment, particularly the capacity of tenants to meet their payment commitments, the ongoing pre-marketing of developments that have been completed, and the potential fall in value of certain buildings.
Almost the full amount of these funds is still available, and will enable the Group to capitalise on new investment opportunities and secure its cash flow, to the benefit of its growth and shareholders.
- February-March 2022: 2021 annual results (after market close)
- April 2022: General Shareholders’ Meeting
- June 2022: dividend payment
- 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 29 July: Financial information – Société Tour Eiffel (societetoureiffel.com).
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