UNIBAIL-RODAMCO-WESTFIELD REPORTS FY-2021 EARNINGS

Donnerstag, 10. Februar 2022 07:00

Paris, Amsterdam, February 10, 2022


Press release

UNIBAIL-RODAMCO-WESTFIELD REPORTS FY-2021 EARNINGS

Adjusted Recurring EPS of €6.91 - above guidance on better rent collection and higher sales based rents

Ongoing recovery in H2 with tenant sales approaching pre-COVID levels

Proactive leasing strategy throughout pandemic protects long-term rental values and delivers high sales based rents (+30% vs. 2019)

Significant reduction in vacancy across all markets demonstrating sustained retailer demand for URW Flagship destinations

Further progress on comprehensive deleveraging plan – €2.2 Bn pro-forma IFRS net debt reduction thanks to European disposals and US regional portfolio streamlining

2022 AREPS forecasted to be in the range of €8.20 to €8.401

2021 in review:

  • 2,399 letting deals signed, +60% vs. 2020 and +2% vs. 2019, with Minimum Guaranteed Rent (MGR) uplift of +1.8% on longer term deals (>36 months) and an increased proportion of these deals in H2 with 55% vs. 44% in H1
  • Rent collection at 88% (vs. 80% reported at FY-2020 and 73% reported in H1-2021), with Continental Europe at 86%, UK at 90% and US at 91%
  • Tenant sales continued to outperform footfall, reaching in the second half 93% of H2-2019 levels, with Continental Europe at 92%, the UK at 83% and the US at 100%
  • 190 bps improvement in vacancy in H2: 7.0% at Group level (H1-2021: 8.9%); 4.0% in Continental Europe (H1-2021: 5.0%); 10.6% in the UK (H1-2021: 12.2%); and 11.0% in the US (H1-2021: 14.0%)
  • Successful delivery of Westfield Mall of the Netherlands (The Netherlands), the Fashion Pavilion at Westfield La Maquinista (Spain) and the Pullman Montparnasse hotel in Paris (France)
  • Launch of the Triangle (France) development project in partnership with AXA IM Alts
  • €2.5 Bn of €4.0 Bn European disposal target by 2022 now signed or completed at a premium to last unaffected appraisal values, including the disposal of Solna Centrum (Sweden) and a 45% stake in Westfield Carré Sénart (France)
  • Refinancing needs for the next 36-months secured with €12.1 Bn of cash and available facilities
  • 2021 pro-forma IFRS Net Financial Debt reduced by €2.2 Bn to €22.1 Bn
  • 140 bps reduction in IFRS LTV to 43.3%, or 42.5% pro-forma for the proceeds of signed disposals
  • 2022 AREPS guidance in the range of €8.20 to €8.401

Commenting on the results, Jean-Marie Tritant, Chief Executive Officer said:

“Our operational performance over the past 12 months, achieved in the extremely difficult context of COVID-19, gives us great confidence for 2022. We saw a strong recovery in tenant sales, which are now nearing pre-COVID levels. Asset values have stabilised, and occupancy levels have significantly improved. Our pragmatic and proactive leasing strategy has delivered robust results, including an increase in rent for longer-term leases and a material increase of sales based rents in 2021, and positions URW to benefit further as market conditions continue to improve.
We also made substantial progress towards our deleveraging goals. In Europe, we have now achieved 62% of our €4 Bn disposal target. The US portfolio streamlining also contributed to the €1.6 Bn IFRS net debt reduction and 140 bps net reduction in our loan-to-value ratio. We have made progress in our plans to radically reduce US financial exposure, as announced, in the course of 2022 and 2023.
We continue to enjoy favourable access to credit markets and have more than 36 months of liquidity. We have maintained strict capital allocation and cost control while continuing to develop new assets, bringing in joint venture partners to optimise our capital allocation while creating further income opportunities. This includes our Triangle office development in Paris with AXA IM Alts, for which construction has started.
I would like to acknowledge the commitment, tenacity and contribution of our teams over the past 12 months. Thanks to their efforts, URW is well positioned to drive strong growth in 2022 and beyond as operating conditions continue to improve.
Based on our positive sales performance, sustained leasing activity and vacancy reduction, we forecast our 2022 AREPS to be in the range of €8.20 to €8.40, assuming no reintroduction of major COVID-19 related restrictions."

  FY-2021 FY-2020 Growth Like-for-like growth2
Net Rental Income (in € Mn) 1,724 1,790 -3.7% -1.6%3
   Shopping Centres 1,632 1,699 -3.9% -1.2%4
   Offices & Others 60 86 -29.7% -6.6%
   Convention & Exhibition 32 6 n.m. n.m.
         
Recurring net result (in € Mn) 1,005 1,057 -4.9%  
Recurring EPS (in €) 7.26 7.63 -4.9%  
Adjusted Recurring EPS (in €) 6.91 7.28 -5.2%  
         
  Dec. 31, 2021 Dec. 31, 2020 Growth Like-for-like growth
Proportionate portfolio valuation (in € Mn) 54,473 56,314 -3.3% -4.1%
EPRA Net Reinstatement Value (in € per stapled share) 159.60 166.80 -4.3%  

Figures may not add up due to rounding
2021 AREPS: €6.91

Reported AREPS amounted to €6.91, above guidance (of at least €6.75) and down -5.2% from 2020, a decrease of -€0.37, mainly driven by the impact of 2020 and 2021 disposals of -€0.68, offset by the successful deliveries in 2021 and better C&E division performance. Restated for 2020 and 2021 disposals, the AREPS was up +4.7%, reflecting the resilient retail operating performance.

OPERATING PERFORMANCE

Shopping Centres

Like-for-like shopping centre NRI was down by -1.2% for the Group, and by -7.5% in Continental Europe, and up +12.7% in the US and +26.4% in the UK. The performance in Continental Europe was impacted by vacancy and COVID-19 rent relief. The US benefitted from higher Sales Based Rent (SBR) and lower doubtful debtors thanks to better rent collection. The increase in the UK was also driven by lower doubtful debtors as a result of better rent collection, higher variable income, as well as lower rent relief and an insurance claim covering loss of revenue. Excluding the latter, the like-for-like NRI in the UK was +17.4%, as a result of low basis (-49.3% in 2020). Adjusted for reversals and straightlining related to COVID-19, the like-for-like NRI was +0.5% for the Group.

In total, the Group granted, on a cash basis, €301 Mn of COVID-19 rent relief in FY-2021 (vs. €313 Mn in FY-2020). €252 Mn (vs. €246 Mn in FY-2020) of the rent relief was charged to the income statement, as well as €97.3 Mn of debtor provisions.

Tenant sales5 figures showed good performance despite COVID-19 related restrictions and lockdowns in 2021, once again outperforming footfall trends.

Most centres and sectors were able to trade throughout H2-2021, resulting in footfall in Europe that reached 81% of 2019 levels, despite the Omicron variant and lockdowns in Austria, Slovakia and The Netherlands at the end of 2021. While in the US, where comprehensive data is not available for all centres6, footfall in the second half reached 78% of 2019 levels.

In H2-2021, European tenant sales reached 90% of 2019 levels, with Continental Europe and the UK at 92% and 83%, respectively. When compared to H2-2020, European sales were up +26%, with Continental Europe up +21% and the UK up +56%. Despite a broad-based recovery, the sales performance in H2-2021 differed by sector following reopening. In particular, Entertainment was -20%, Food & Beverage -13%, Fashion -12%, Health & Beauty -3% and Food Stores & Mass Merchandise -2%, while Sport was +5% above 2019 levels.

US retail sales saw a strong rebound in 2021, supported by the removal of all restrictions on in-person activities during the first quarter and the significant government stimulus package. The Group’s US tenant sales reached 100% of 2019 levels in H2-2021, with an even stronger performance in the non-CBD Flagship7 assets at 106%. While this recovery was initially supported by very strong growth in highly discretionary categories such as Luxury (+43% in 2021 vs. 2019) and Jewellery (+19% in 2021 vs. 2019), it became more broad-based in the second half, with the key Fashion category at +1% vs. H2-2019. In the F&B sector, which was one of the most impacted, an improvement was seen from -23% compared to 2019 in H1, to -4% in H2.

Rent collection8 amounted to 88% for 2021 (vs. 80% at FY-2020 and 73% in H1-2021), including 86% in Continental Europe, 90% in the UK and 91% in the US. In Q3-2021, the collection rate came to 93%, while it was slightly lower in Q4 at 90%, due to technical delays and retailers which keep optimising their treasury. This marks a clear improvement compared to H1-2021 and FY-2020.

URW signed 2,399 leases9 during 2021, up +2% vs. 2019 and +60% vs. 2020. The Group adopted a pragmatic approach to lease terms, offering shorter term leases (12-36 months10) where appropriate to both limit vacancies while also protecting longer term rental values and optimising short-term cash flow through higher SBR.

Thanks to this strategy the Group is well positioned to benefit from the ongoing recovery, as illustrated by the strong performance in shopping centre SBR which increased from €41.5 Mn in 2020 (2.5% of NRI) and €61.8 Mn in 2019 (2.7% of NRI) to €80.2 Mn in 2021 (5.0% of NRI). In the US, the increase in shopping centre SBR was the highest from €18.4 Mn in 2019 (2.8% of NRI) to €50.1 Mn in 2021 (10.5% of NRI), of which €13.0 Mn is related to renewals and relettings signed11 in 2021. On an annualised basis, these deals are expected to generate €21.8 Mn of SBR, compensating almost fully the €22.1 Mn of MGR reduction on those deals.

This proportion of short-term leases decreased from 56% in H1 to 45% in H2 as conditions improved with a focus on lease terms that combine a MGR with SBR top-up. The MGR uplift for deals above 36 months came to +1.8% for the Group showcasing the strength of the assets, with Continental Europe at +4.6%, the UK at -3.7% and the US at +1.0%. Overall, the MGR uplift on all deals was -5.2%. Rents signed on both long-term and short-term leases were in line with passing rents in Continental Europe (-0.5%).

The performance seen in H2-2021, gives the Group a high degree of confidence that its Flagship destinations will continue to be the preferred locations for retailers and consumers as trading conditions gradually normalise. 

Vacancy at a Group level decreased significantly to 7.0% at FY-2021, down from 8.9% at H1-2021 and 8.3% at FY-2020. In Continental Europe, vacancy came to 4.0%, down from 5.0% at H1-2021. In the UK, vacancy also decreased from 12.2% at H1-2021 to 10.6% at FY-2021, but remains above 2019 levels, due to bankruptcies and retailers that did not reopen after lockdowns. In the US, the vacancy reduced to 11.0% at FY-2021 from 13.1% at FY-2020 and 14.0% at H1-2021.

Offices & Others

NRI fell -29.7%, primarily as a result of the disposals of the SHiFT, Les Villages 3, 4 and 6, and Le Blériot office buildings. On a like-for-like basis, it was -6.6%, with +2.4% in France, but -47.4% in the US due to the exposure to the San Francisco market where tech companies have been slower in returning to the office.

The Group made significant progress with the letting of Trinity in La Défense, now 63.5% let, with all deals signed since FY-2020. Leases were signed with Sopra Steria, Technip, Altitude, Welkin & Meraki, Mylan, HDI and Mersen at attractive market rents (€559 / sqm on average12).

Convention & Exhibition

Recurring NOI amounted to €55.2 Mn compared to -€1.5 Mn in H1-2021, €12.1 Mn in 2020 and €156.9 Mn in 2019, as most events were banned in H1. From June 30, all events were allowed with no capacity constraints, however a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination remained a requirement.

In the second half of 2021, Viparis hosted 278 events (o/w 102 exhibitions, 39 congresses and 137 corporate events) vs. 294 events at the same period in 2019 (o/w 104 exhibitions, 42 congresses and 148 corporate events). As at December 31, 2021, signed and pre-booked events in Viparis venues for 2022 amounted to c. 89% of its expected 2022 rental income, in line with previous years, and 81% of 201813 pre-bookings level for the year.

DELEVERAGING

In 2021, the Group made significant deleveraging progress through disposals, control on CAPEX allocation and retaining earnings.

In Europe, URW completed the disposal of the SHiFT office building, the Les Villages 3, 4 and 6 office buildings, a 60% interest in Aupark Bratislava, a 45% interest in Westfield Shopping City Süd, the 7 Adenauer office building sale and leaseback, a 51% interest in Aquaboulevard and Le Sextant, a 70% interest in the Triangle Tower project and several minor assets including the Le Blériot office building in Paris (France), the Q-Huset office building in Täby (Sweden) and land plots in Osnabrück (Germany) and Solna (Sweden). These disposals completed in 2021 amount to €1.9 Bn, representing a premium of +6.7% to the last unaffected appraisal.

In addition, the Group announced on December 20, 2021, the agreement for the sale of Solna Centrum, which was completed and cashed-in on February 1, 2022.
The Group also agreed the sale of a 45% stake in Westfield Carré Sénart to Société Générale Assurances and BNP Paribas Cardif for an implied offer price of c. €1 Bn (at 100%), in line with the last appraisal value. URW has granted the buyers a rental guarantee of up to €13.5 Mn (at 45%) for a duration of up to three years from closing of the transaction. As part of the transaction, a consortium of banks has underwritten a secured financing package of up to €310 Mn for the joint venture. The IFRS net debt reduction for URW is expected to amount to €280 Mn14. URW will continue to control and manage the asset, which will be fully consolidated.

Upon the closing of those transactions, URW will have completed €2.5 Bn of its €4.0 Bn European disposal programme, representing 62%, at an average NIY of 4.4% and a premium to the last unaffected appraisal of +6.2%.

In line with its strategy, the Group will continue the asset and property management for several of those assets, including Westfield Shopping City Süd, Aupark and Westfield Carré Sénart, receiving management fees that will increase the return on investment for those assets.

URW continued to streamline its US portfolio during 2021. The Group transferred ownership on five US Regional centres (Citrus Park, Countryside, Sarasota, Broward and Palm Desert). This resulted in the derecognition of US$411 Mn of non-recourse debt from URW’s balance sheet and a positive net capital gain of €44 Mn.

In addition, URW completed the disposal of its 50% stake in the Palisade residential building at Westfield UTC for a purchase price of $238 Mn (at 100%), which reflected a +15% premium to the latest appraisal.

The Group has completed its internal strategy review to prepare for a larger scale disposal programme in the US, identified clear alternatives, and is positioned to execute the planned radical reduction in financial exposure to the US. With financing markets progressively reopening and strong operational performance showcasing the recovery, the Group is confident it will be able to execute its plans in the course of 2022 and 2023.

The Total Investment Cost (TIC)15 of URW’s development pipeline has reduced to €3.2 Bn, down from €4.4 Bn as at December 31, 2020, mainly as a result of 2021 successful deliveries and the JV partnership for the Triangle project. In line with the Group’s strategy to join with strategic partners on select development projects, URW signed a co-investment partnership with AXA IM Alts to dispose of 70% of the Triangle project while keeping a 30% stake, providing property, asset and project management services to the JV owning the project, and benefitting from a promote.

Committed projects amount to €2.4 Bn, of which €1.3 Bn has already been invested. The two main projects are mixed used developments in Paris (Gaîté Montparnasse) and Hamburg (Westfield Hamburg-Überseequartier).

DELIVERIES

In 2021, the Group delivered the Westfield Mall of the Netherlands project (The Hague region), the Fashion Pavilion at Westfield La Maquinista (Barcelona), department store conversion projects at Westfield Annapolis (Maryland) and Westfield Garden State Plaza (New Jersey), and the 957-room Pullman Montparnasse hotel (Paris) operated by Accor. The average letting16 of these deliveries stands at 94%.

In 2022, URW plans to deliver Les Ateliers Gaîté, the Gaîté Montparnasse office project, the Westfield Topanga extension, “Rue de la Boucle” project at Westfield Forum des Halles and Porte de Paris at Westfield Les 4 Temps. The average pre-letting17 of these projects stands at 72% for Shopping Centres and 100% for Offices & Others.

VALUATION

The proportionate Gross Market Value (GMV) of the Group’s assets as at December 31, 2021, decreased by -3.3% to €54.5 Bn from €56.3 Bn as at December 31, 2020, mainly as a result of disposals (-€1.9 Bn) and a like-for-like portfolio revaluation of -€2.0 Bn (-4.1%), partly offset by CAPEX, Acquisitions and Transfers (€1.1 Bn) and positive FX moves (€1.2 Bn). In the second half, the valuation decline slowed down for the Group, with Continental Europe valuations down only -0.3% since June 30, 2021.

On the back of the slowdown in valuation adjustments, the EPRA Net Reinstatement Value per share came to €159.60 as at December 31, 2021, down -€7.20 (-4.3%) compared to December 31, 2020, and only -1.7% vs. June 30, 2021, mainly driven by the revaluation of investment properties, offset by the retained recurring results, capital gains on disposals, and positive FX moves.

FINANCING

Driven by the progress on European disposals and streamlining of the US regional portfolio, IFRS net financial debt decreased from €24.2 Bn to €22.6 Bn between December 31, 2020, and December 31, 2021. Pro forma for the disposals already signed but not closed at December 31, 2021, this figure will decline further to €22.1 Bn. The Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio decreased from 44.7% to 43.3%, and 42.5% pro-forma for the disposal of Solna Centrum and the upcoming 45% stake in Westfield Carré Sénart.  

The Group’s average cost of debt increased from 1.7% to 2.0%, representing a blended 1.5% for EUR18 debt and 3.9% for USD and GBP debt, driven by the higher liquidity that the Group is maintaining.

The Group’s average debt maturity came to 8.6 years. Following the operational recovery seen in H2, the credit metrics improved. The Interest Coverage Ratio (ICR) stood at 3.3x (vs. 2.9x at H1-2021), while the Funds from Operations to Net Financial Debt (FFO / NFD) ratio came to 5.0% (vs. 4.3% at H1-2021). The Group complied with the covenants on its corporate debt despite the extraordinary operating environment in FY-2021, which led to a -33% decrease in EBITDA compared to 2019 mainly related to rent relief granted.  

With cash and available facilities of €12.1 Bn, the Group has fully secured refinancing needs for at least 36 months, longer than the 24 months announced as at December 31, 2020.

 2022 GUIDANCE

The positive sales performance upon reopening of the centres, the sustained leasing activity for shopping centres and offices, the vacancy reduction, and the recovery of the C&E activity, demonstrate the appeal of the Group’s assets.

Thanks to the improvement in operating environment during the second half of the year and the Group’s proactive leasing strategy, URW is well-positioned to capitalize on the continued growth in 2022.

In this context, the Group forecasts its 2022 AREPS to be in the range of €8.20 to €8.40.

The main drivers of this guidance are:

  • The impact of project deliveries in 2021 / 2022;
  • The impact of like-for-like operations, with in particular, reduced rent relief, improved rent collection and higher variable income streams;
  • Partly offset by the impact of disposals closed in 2021 / 2022;
  • Remaining impact of financial expenses due to higher cash position; and
  • The related increase in income tax amount.

In 2022, the rental income will be influenced by the level of tenant sales, due to the proactive short-term leasing strategy the Group has adopted, and the time lag in vacancy reduction. The C&E NOI is not expected to reach pre-COVID levels in 2022.

This guidance is premised on the Group’s current expectation of no reintroduction of major COVID-19 related restrictions impacting the Group’s operations during the year.

FINANCIAL SCHEDULE

The next financial events on the Group’s calendar will be:
March 30, 2022: Investor Day at Westfield Mall of the Netherlands
April 27, 2022: Q1 trading update
May 11, 2022: AGM Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield SE

July 28, 2022: H1-2022 results

For further information, please contact:

Investor Relations 
Maarten Otte
+33 7 63 86 88 78
maarten.otte@urw.com

Media Relations 
Pauline Duclos-Lenoir
+33 7 60 30 63 54
Pauline.Duclos-lenoir@urw.com

Cornelia Schnepf – Finelk
+44 7387 108 998
Cornelia.Schnepf@finelk.eu

About Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is the premier global developer and operator of Flagship Destinations, with a portfolio valued at €54.5 Bn as at December 31, 2021, of which 86% in retail, 6% in offices, 5% in convention & exhibition venues and 2% in services. Currently, the Group owns and operates 85 shopping centres, including 53 Flagships in the most dynamic cities in Europe and the United States. Present on two continents and in 12 countries, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield provides a unique platform for retailers and brand events and offers an exceptional and constantly renewed experience for customers.

With the support of its 2,800 professionals and an unparalleled track-record and know-how, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield is ideally positioned to generate superior value and develop world-class projects.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield distinguishes itself by its Better Places 2030 agenda, that sets its ambition to create better places that respect the highest environmental standards and contribute to better cities.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield stapled shares are listed on Euronext Amsterdam and Euronext Paris (Euronext ticker: URW), with a secondary listing in Australia through Chess Depositary Interests. The Group benefits from a BBB+ rating from Standard & Poor’s and from a Baa2 rating from Moody’s.

For more information, please visit www.urw.com
Visit our Media Library at https://mediacentre.urw.com
Follow the Group updates on Twitter @urw_group, Linkedin @Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Instagram @urw_group




1 Assuming no reintroduction of major COVID-19 related restrictions.

2 Like-for-like NRI: Net Rental Income excluding acquisitions, divestments, transfers to and from pipeline (extensions, brownfields or redevelopment of an asset when operations are stopped to enable works), all other changes resulting in any change to square metres and currency exchange rate differences in the periods analysed.
3 Including airports.
4 Excluding airports.
5 European tenant sales data does not include Zlote Tarasy as it is not managed by URW. Tenant sales performance in URW’s shopping centres (except The Netherlands) in operation, including extensions of existing assets, but excluding deliveries of new brownfield projects, newly acquired assets and assets under heavy refurbishment. Primark sales are based on estimates. Excluding Tesla sales. Carrousel du Louvre is excluded.
6 Only includes the 19 centres for which at least one year of comparable Springboard or ShopperTrak data is available.
7 I.e. excluding Westfield World Trade Center and Westfield San Francisco Centre.
8 For the Shopping Centre division, including service charges, as at February 3.
9 All letting figures exclude deals <12 months, 2019 and 2020 restated accordingly.
10 Up to and including 36 months.
11 Including full SBR deals.
12 Lease incentives in line with typical incentives given in La Défense.
13 Last comparable year.
14 Subject to closing adjustments. Computed as net proceeds, less debt raised to finance the JV and fully consolidated.
15 URW Total Investment Cost (TIC) equals 100% TIC multiplied by URW's percentage stake in the project, adjusted by specific own costs and income, if any. 100% TIC is expressed in value at completion. It equals the sum of: (i) all capital expenditures from the start of the project to the completion date and includes: land costs, construction costs, study costs, design costs, technical fees, tenant fitting-out costs paid for by the Group, letting fees and related costs, eviction costs and vacancy costs for renovations or redevelopments of standing assets; and (ii) opening marketing expenses. It excludes: (i) step rents and rent-free periods; (ii) capitalized financial interests; (iii) overhead costs; (iv) early or lost Net Rental Income; and (v) IFRS adjustments. 
16 GLA signed, all agreed to be signed and financials agreed.
17 GLA signed, all agreed to be signed and financials agreed.
18 Including SEK.



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