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Green to cut debt ratio as property market eases


Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne

Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne

Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne

Green REIT is reducing its borrowing levels by almost a third, as the commercial property market here moves to a more "normal" phase.

The real estate investment trust posted profits of €156.3m in the 12 months to the end of June, up sharply from €43.1m a year earlier.

Much of that growth was due to the company increasing its property holdings.

Net asset value - a key measure for a property firm - rose 23pc to 134.8c per share. The company will pay a final dividend of 1.6c per share.

Green was the first big property firms to enter the Irish market when it listed in June 2013. While it has bought heavily since it was set up, executive director Stephen Vernon said that while it was "scouring the Irish market" for potential investment at present, it had not seen any property that would provide enough value in the current market. He said Green now expected to cut its maximum borrowing, or gearing, to 25pc of its overall equity from 35pc.

"Risk management is key for us, and we are at the stage of the property market cycle where the opportunistic plays are probably not really there now," said Mr Vernon.

Company chief executive Pat Gunne said the company was now moving from its asset acquisition stage to asset management, although he did not discount more buying if the terms are favourable.

"Rents have moved dramatically on the office cycle, and less so in industrial and retail," he said.

"The Dublin office sector is at one point, and yields have fallen from the highs of recent years to more normalised levels. Things have moved from an opportunistic market to a more normalised in Dublin.

"As a result, we have moved from buying to asset management, and extending out the unexpired lease terms and so on," he said.

Mr Gunne said there was still significant demand for space in the Dublin office market, but that would likely change as more supply becomes available, with as much as five million square feet of space that may be developed. That would be more than 20pc of the current market.

Cantor Fitzgerald's Shane Kelly was positive on the "strong" results. Shares in Green rose 0.8pc to €1.48. The shares are up 14.5pc in the last year.

Irish Independent