IMMOBEL accelerated and exceeded in 2016 its five-year business plan and had a better year than expected. 2017 became thus the transition year with less profit where we continued sowing in order to harvest in the coming years. This is exactly what is happening.
Our net income for 2017 stands at EUR 11 million not a grand cru year indeed.
However, the current business plan is on schedule and the reorganization of IMMOBEL will enable it to become a successful pan-European player.
“We have been thinking and executing, adjusting our strategy to the ever-changing real estate horizon, upgrading our teams,...”
We have been thinking and executing, adjusting our strategy to the ever-changing real estate horizon, upgrading our teams, designing, developing and building our projects and extending our geographic and sectorial reach.
Belgium is doing well and several projects have started up and enjoy excellent sales: O’Sea, Ernest (Solvay) phase II, Universalis Park, Parc Seny, Greenhill Park, Royal Louise and Lake Front (Knokke-Heist).
RAC 4 and the last phases of Universalis Park prove to be a bit of a permitting nightmare with continuous resets after in both cases already ten years of design and permitting history. We do hope to clear this out in 2018-2019. We are in full design phase for our 40,000 m² Brussels Sablon and our 50,000 m² Place de Brouckère projects. The construction of the new Allianz headquarters in Möbius I is in full execution.
We are continuously fine tuning our Belgian team. Additional management control systems and other support tools have been put in place. The close relationships between our various departments allow the efficient execution of projects. A matrix structure has been put in place so that the Group’s highly qualified talents can add know how and value throughout our international markets when needed. We have developed a new activity within our Landbanking department and created a team to develop residential units on our existing landbanking sites. Landbanking has done well this year and profits should increase in the coming years thanks to this additional business model.
The Polish team has been completely reshuffled, a new CEO has joined and additional competencies have been recruited to further bring our organization to our international standards. Our Warsaw office project Cedet is nearing completion and currently 74 % has been leased to high quality tenants. We expect a sale in 2018. We won the lawsuit that impeded the development of our other Warsaw project Central Point (formerly known as CBD One) and the start of the construction is foreseen in the coming months. Our Gdansk Granary Island project has, as Cedet, not been a smooth technical ride, but it is going forward and sales are excellent. We remain cautious on Poland.
Luxembourg is enjoying the development of INFINITY where 80 % of apartments have been sold. The office building and retail area have been leased and pre-sold. Our 26,000 m² mainly residential development Polvermillen in Luxembourg City is a year behind schedule but sales prices keep rising. All other projects are doing well, are on target, and we remain keen on Luxembourg.
Following a strategic assessment, we have found a 4th market and it is Paris where we are in process to acquire, in three stages, NAFILYAN & PARTNERS, a leader in the French residential market. We plan to expand our Paris platform over the coming years into several asset classes and it could very well become our largest market.
Acquisition PLAN, BOND ISSUE AND ASSET PRICES
Our purchases were below our business plan in 2017. We are happy with the Brussel ING site (in partnership) but we did not hit our 100,000 m² acquisition goal across geographies. The French purchase does mitigate this disappointment.
We successfully placed a more than doubly oversubscribed EUR 100 million bond with a five-year duration at 3 % interest, confirming the markets confidence in our company. This bond will replace repaid bonds and further provides the required capacity to realize our ambitious business plan. IMMOBEL could again consult the financial markets in the coming years, in order to expand its financial capacity.
Asset prices are ever increasing which is great for our stock but worrisome for every new purchase. We are adjusting our products to rapidly changing user demand. We seek out the last uncrowded asset classes in Europe. And we are studying an update of our business model to decrease its risk level and assure long term steady income. Risk is less and less rewarded but it has not gone away, to the contrary.
“We are ambitious yet cautious, aware of the fact that we carry the heavy fiduciary responsibility of a 150-year young jewel.”
We are ambitious yet cautious, aware of the fact that we carry the heavy fiduciary responsibility of a 150-year young jewel. The world is evolving faster than ever. We have to adjust to an ever-changing Darwinian environment. Count on us to devote our intense professional lives to continue to navigate your fantastic company through the next phases.
The Board of Directors has confirmed its intention to propose a recurring and increasing dividend to Shareholders. The outlook confirms this possibility.
The Board will propose to the General Meeting to grant for financial year 2017 a gross dividend of EUR 2.2 to the Shareholders, an amount that is expected to increase every year, subject to the absence of any currently unforeseen exceptional events.