Stable earnings in a recovering market
Like last year, 2021 will continue to be marked by the ongoing pandemic and the recovery from the same. However, I can note that the ongoing vaccinations, and a better starting point for the Swedish economy than in many other countries both contribute to good hope for a gradual normalization. For Klövern, the first quarter has been eventful in many ways. After having been head of transactions in the company for almost a decade, I am pleased to have also assumed the role as acting CEO. During the quarter, Corem Property Group has also announced a public offer to the shareholders of Klövern.
Klövern is reporting stable earnings for the first quarter which are fully in line with our expectations taking into account a cold and snowy winter as well as continued lower-than-normal parking revenues. Once again, we can note that the composition of the portfolio and the diversified customer base have provided stability during the pandemic. Profit from property management amounted to SEK 309 million and after positive changes in value of properties of SEK 406 million, profit before tax was SEK 909 million.
The offer from corem
At the end of March, Corem announced a public offer to the shareholders of Klövern. The process is completely controlled by the offeror so that the offer does not affect ongoing work at Klövern. It is business as usual. The acceptance period for the offer is expected to end on 8 June. Klövern’s board will make a statement on the offer at the latest two weeks before the end of the acceptance period.
Positive signals on economic recovery
The swift downturn of the Swedish and the global economy during 2020 is historic. The consequences can be seen, inter alia, in increased unemployment. However, an increasingly positive picture of the world economy is now being painted. In the United States, for instance, extensive stimulation packages and efficient vaccination have contributed to positive macro signals. The Swedish economy’s resilience appears impressive from a European perspective and there is therefore every reason to be optimistic about the continued recovery during 2021. At the beginning of the year, the transaction market has been very strong with continued falling yield requirements while the rental market is more hesitant.
Net moving-in reflects a hesitant market
During the first quarter, net moving-in amounted to SEK –16 million and net letting to SEK –17 million. It is usually the case that more vacations and terminations take place during the first quarter than in subsequent quarters and the outcome was expected given that the letting climate is still hesitant in many cities. During the quarter, we have, however, welcomed a number of new tenants, including Eurofins which leases over 900 sq.m. in Uppsala and a number of new tenants at the property Solna Gate in Stockholm that together lease over 1,800 sq.m. During the quarter, lease contracts have also been signed with Matthew Kenney for approximately 730 sq.m. of restaurant space in New York, with Pharmadanmark for approximately 1,000 sq.m. in Copenhagen and with Servistore for around 1,600 sq.m. in Nyköping. Klövern is in a very project-intensive phase which is expected to have a large positive effect on net letting during the coming two years.
A focused property portfolio
Based on our strategy, we have a clear picture of the growth locations and segments that we want to focus Klövern’s long-term ownership on. During the quarter, 12 properties were divested, mainly with warehouse/logistics premises, to Mileway in a transaction that took place at a premium of 21 per cent in relation to book value. We have also taken possession of three properties that complement the existing portfolios in Lund and Uppsala and in the exciting urban development area Söderstaden in Stockholm.
During the second quarter, a relatively small but strategically important add-on acquisition which improves the efficiency of the future project on Park Avenue in New York, is planned to be taken possession of.
The aggregate value of the property portfolio at the end of the quarter, excluding properties classified as current assets in Tobin Properties, was SEK 58 billion, of which the international portfolio in Copenhagen and New York accounted for 16 per cent.
Intensive project development
Klövern’s project and urban development activities are extensive with a number of major ongoing projects and a very interesting pipeline. As at 31 March, development properties accounted for 16 per cent of the total property value. During the last four quarters, investments amounted to SEK 2,399 million and, in addition during the same period, Klövern’s project development, including development of building rights, contributed to increases in value of properties of SEK 538 million.
Klövern’s two largest ongoing new production projects are two office buildings of the highest quality in attractive locations in Manhattan. In New York, the letting market, as in the rest of the world, has seen less activity due to the pandemic and it will therefore take slightly longer to complete lettings associated with these projects. It is, however, gratifying that there are indications of a recovery. Everyone over 16 years of age is now entitled to vaccine in New York and it is planned for all public employees to return to their work places in May.
Exciting work is taking place at Uppsala Business Park focused on development of a living city neighbourhood and a location for innovation in life science. There is great interest in the area and we have extensive project plans for the coming years. Already now, Uppsala Business Park offers unique premises with laboratories and facilities for manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
Long-term sustainable financing
We are continuously working to secure long-term sustainable financing. During the quarter, we have issued SEK 2,500 million green bonds under Klövern’s MTN programme. Klövern now has green bonds amounting to a total of SEK 6,850 million. In the sphere of sustainability, it may also be mentioned that the over 30,000 sq.m. large, fully let property at Kalvebod Brygge in central Copenhagen which will be taken possession of at the beginning of May has obtained energy classification A.
Focus on economic recovery
We entered the second quarter backed up by stable earnings and with full focus on ongoing activities at the same time as we are monitoring developments associated with Corem’s offer. Ahead of me, I see an eventful year marked by a gradual normalization where we can again have physical meetings, not least at the office, to create new business in a climate of economic recovery. Even though both our and other’s business operations have made good progress with many digital meetings, they can never completely replace physical meetings. Human beings are social creatures and physical meetings are needed to build relationships, develop the corporate culture and create new business.
Peeter Kinnunen, Acting CEO