Hammerson pledges more disposals in bid to appease shareholders
Hammerson has announced a new wave of property sales, on top of the £570m of sales achieved in 2018. In a bid to drive debt levels down to £3bn by the end of 2019, Hammerson has earmarked another £500m of property for sale. These potential transactions are in the form of portfolio sales, joint ventures and individual asset disposals from multiple sectors and territories.
And the sales could go even further as CEO David Atkins disclosed the company was in “active portfolio-wide discussions on transactions of over £900m, which would add further strength to our balance sheet.”
The news came as Hammerson released its full-year result for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018, which saw the UK portfolio downvalued by 9.3% in the second half of the year. The UK flagship destinations saw like-for-like net rental income fall by 1.3% on the year and retail parks saw a 4.3% fall. Retail sales in the UK flagship destinations were down 2.9% on top of a 2.7% fall the year previously, while footfall was down 1.8%.Occupancy fell from 98.3% to 97.2% on the year, and leasing activity fell from £33m in 2017 to £27.7m.
Atkins concluded: “2018 was a tough year particularly in the UK. Tenant failures, the structural shift in retail and a more considered consumer created a difficult operating environment, putting pressure on property values. Outside of the UK our destinations performed better with a strong contribution from premium outlets.
“We believe that a successful deleveraging programme will best position Hammerson for the current environment and beyond. Disposals will also enable us to prove the inherent value of this business – which we believe is not recognised in the current equity market.