The manager of Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (A-REIT) declared distribution per unit (DPU) of 7.418 cents for the 2HFY2020 ended December, 0.9% lower than DPU of 7.485 cents in the year before.

Unitholders will receive DPU of 1.678 cents for the period from Nov 19, 2020 to Dec 31, 2020, as the REIT has paid an advanced DPU of 5.740 cents from July 1, 2020, to Nov 18, 2020, on Dec 11, 2020.

This brings DPU for the FY2020 to 14.688 cents, 6.1% lower than DPU of 15.638 cents reported in the FY2019, due to the increase in unit base due to the rights issue, private placement and preferential offering held by the REIT in December 2019, November 2020 and December 2020 respectively.

The lower FY2020 DPU was also partially attributable to the negative impact brought about by Covid-19, says the manager.

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Total income available for distribution for the 2HFY2020 grew 9.9% y-o-y to $275.2 million, while FY2020 income available for distribution rose 6.7% y-o-y to $538.4 million mainly due to the contributions from the REIT’s newly acquired properties in the US, Australia and Singapore.

Excluding the one-off distribution of rollover adjustment of 0.25 cent in 1QFY2019, DPU for FY2020 would have dropped by 4.5% instead.

2HFY2020 gross revenue grew 12.5% y-o-y to $528.2 million mainly due to the contributions from the REIT’s US portfolio of 28 business park properties and the two Singapore business park properties which were acquired in December 2019.

The REIT’s fourth suburban office in Australia, 254 Wellington, and the two properties in San Francisco also contributed to the higher gross revenue.

This was partly offset by the rent rebate given to eligible tenants due to Covid-19 as well as lower gross revenue for the Singapore portfolio due to divestments and lower occupancies.

2HFY2020 property operating expenses increased 38.5% y-o-y to $86.5 million due to the properties acquired in December 2019 as well as the completion of 254 Wellington.

Net property income (NPI) for the 2HFY2020 increased 7.8% y-o-y to $388.2 million accordingly.

During the period, the REIT reported a foreign exchange gain of $42.2 million due to the appreciation of the Singapore dollar against the Japanese yen (JPY), Hong Kong dollar (HKD) and British pound (GBP) in relation to the JPY- and HKD-denominated medium term notes (MTN) and GDP denominated borrowings.

FY2020 gross revenue grew 13.6% y-o-y to $1.05 billion, while FY2020 property operating expenses grew 69.3% y-o-y to $273.2 million due mainly to the acquisition of the REIT’s US portfolio.

FY2020 NPI rose 9.4% y-o-y to $776.2 million in tandem with the higher gross revenue.

As at Dec 31, 2020, cash and cash equivalents stood higher at $278.0 million, compared to the $54.6 million reported in Dec 31, 2019.

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Portfolio occupancy held steady at 91.7% q-o-q as at Dec 31, 2020, with a total weighted average lease expiry (WALE) of 4.1 years. About 16.3% of the REIT’s gross rental income (GRI) will be due for renewal in FY2021.

In FY2020, the REIT recorded positive average rental reversion of 3.8% for leases that were renewed in multi-tenant buildings, which was still lower compared to the +6.0% in FY2019.

For the FY2020, the REIT saw a change of financial year from March 31 to Dec 31, which is comparable to the nine-month period in FY2019 in April 1, 2019 to Dec 31, 2019.

Due to the surge in Covid-19 infections in several countries, the REIT says it expects the pace of business recovery to vary and remain uncertain at this point.

“Despite the challenging environment in 2020, I am pleased that Ascendas Reit delivered a resilient DPU of 14.688 cents,” says William Tay, CEO and executive director of the manager.

“This was underpinned by a diversified portfolio with exposure in business park, logistics and high-specs segments across selected strong markets. We also seized the opportunity to secure over S$1.4 billion worth of accretive acquisitions in Singapore, Australia and the US to further strengthen our portfolio. We will continue to develop and strengthen our business in 2021,” he adds.

Units in A-REIT closed 3 cents higher or 1.0% up at $3.10 on Feb 2.