HONG KONG, CHINA - Media OutReach - 4 March 2021 - Yuexiu Real Estate Investment Trust ("Yuexiu REIT ", which together with Yuexiu REIT Asset Management Limited, is referred to as the "Fund", HKEX stock code: 00405) announced its annual results ended 31 December 2020.
Effective response to the impact of COVID-19 to maintain stable overall operation
The year 2020 is an unprecedent year in which China is the only major economy in the world which recorded a positive growth amid adversities. The year 2020 also marked the 15th anniversary of the listing of Yuexiu REIT. By successfully overcoming the impact at the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and leveraging on its excellent operating capacity and good underlying assets, the Manager delivered a highly commendable results to the unitholders with a stable recovery in operating results in the second half of the year and a high occupancy rate of office buildings. Yuexiu REIT has demonstrated its strong operating resilience and vitality. Meanwhile, in order to maintain the momentum, stabilize existing tenants and introduce quality brands, the Manager rolled out a plan to renovate some of the properties for the purpose of value preservation and asset appreciation. As at 31 December 2020, the valuation of Yuexiu REIT's portfolio amounted to approximately RMB34.488 billion. Distribution to each unitholder for the year of 2020 was RMB0.1985 which is equivalent to HK$0.2293 per unit, representing a yield of approximately 6.07% based on the closing price of HK$3.78 per unit as at 31 December 2020 (2019: 5.14%).
Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, rental demand for Grade A offices shrank conspicuously and tenants' ability to afford high rentals diminished, which led to an ongoing high risk of lease termination and a reduced willingness in tenants to expand their leased area. GZIFC's office operation team made flexible adjustments in business solicitation strategies to acquire tenants, endeavored to build up a reputation for its effective property management service in pandemic prevention to increase tenants' viscosity and actively explored the demand of existing tenants to expand their office area. Meanwhile, through the introduction of quality tenants via multiple channels, the operation team effectively mitigated the vacancy pressure from tenancy termination and ensured a long-term and stable existing tenant base. In 2020, GZIFC successfully brought in an array of renowned enterprises such as CCB Fintech, Hyundai Insurance and Mango TV, and the unit rent as at the end of 2020 of GZIFC maintained a 29% premium over comparable market rental level, among which, the unit rental price of renewed leases increased by 6.3% year on year. GZIFC shopping mall conducted intensive themed activities and introduced differentiated commercial resources to vigorously facilitate customer flow recovery and boost operating income. As a result, the footfall in 2020 rebounded to nearly 80% of that in the previous year. The sales amount in 2020 restored to over 80% of that in the last year.
Hotel and serviced apartment were the two sectors that were the most impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, various measures were taken to control cost, explore customer sources and optimize catering, with an aim to speed up operation recovery and enhance performance. As a result, in 2020, Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou recorded an average annual occupancy rate that was 2.4 percentage points higher than its competitors, and an average daily room rate 40% higher than that of the peers, while the RevPAR index of the hotel reached 145.9. An occupancy rate of 83.3%, and daily room rate of RMB1,930 was recorded by the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou in December 2020. Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou was awarded, for six consecutive years, "Forbes Travel Guide 2020 Five-star Hotel Award" by Forbes Travel Guide. Ascott Serviced Apartment Guangzhou demonstrated a strong risk resistance capacity during the pandemic, and adopted the operation strategies targeted to stabilize long-term tenants and increase short-term tenants throughout the year. The occupancy rate of apartment was 82.2%, 13 percentage points higher than its competitors. The average daily room rent stood at RMB979, and approximately 44.7% higher than its competitors. The RevPAR index hit a record high of 171.8.
Yuexiu Fortune Center successfully overcame the predicament in the post-pandemic period by strengthening tenants acquisition, reinforcing online marketing, responding to customers' needs efficiently and proactively managing risky tenants. Yuexiu Fortune Center achieved newly contracted area of 41,000 sq.m. in 2020, and successfully brought in tenants such as China Resources Snow Breweries and Taikang Life Insurance, both being in the Fortune Global 500 enterprises, as well as ten other industry-leading enterprises. Yue Xiu Fortune Center's occupancy rate in 2020 increased by 12 percentage points to a record high of 87.1%, making it on the first league in Wuhan.
Starry Victoria Shopping Centre has proposed differentiated lease restructuring schemes to its 49 premium tenants. Taking into account the consumer vouchers issued by the government and the actual operation of the tenants, it offered targeted assistance with an aim to unleash the rental value of principal tenants. During the year, eight additional categories including new energy vehicles were introduced. Through a sustained structural optimization in products operation, the second floor in Mall B attained a year-on-year increase of 41% in operating results and a 163% year-on-year increase in sales amount of new brands, making the shopping mall increasingly attractive to customers. With regard to marketing and promotion, it fully managed the online and offline activities to promote sales of tenants, and the sales amount at year end restored to 97.3%.
White Horse Building
The management team of White Horse Building actively explored customer resources and made vigorous efforts in acquiring potential tenants and transformation of premium brands, which accumulated a reserve of 981 potential tenants, among them, a number of strong brands became the tenants of White Horse Building. As a result, at the end of 2020, it recorded an occupancy rate of 94% which was higher than the market average and a unit rental price of RMB535 per sq. m. which continued to rank first in this business district. It also implemented differentiated leasing policies to support tenants' operation, and effectively stabilized the key premium tenants. Besides, it smoothly carried out the optimization and adjustment in lease renewals on the sixth floor and strategic lease extension on the second floor, which led to an optimization in brands on the sixth floor by phasing out the brands not in line with the floor positioning, ensured a stable operation and laid down a good foundation for future optimization of tenant mix.
Shanghai Yue Xiu Tower
Shanghai office leasing market continued its downward trend, with a continued rise in vacancy rate and a fall in rental rate in Small Lujiazui Area and Zhuyuan Area. In this context, Yue Xiu Tower attempted to ensure good operation and stabilize occupancy rate through enhancement in four aspects including channel, product, price and property management, the occupancy rate climbed from 81.1%, the lowest point during the pandemic, to 92.6%, continuing to lead in Zhuyuan Area.
Fortune Plaza, City Development Plaza
Fortune Plaza successfully introduced premium customers with high net worth such as Guangdong Nanyue Bank and China Guangfa Bank, and the newly contracted area for the year was over 10,000 sq.m.. In addition, it also conducted proactive screening for existing risky customers, aimed at striving for new opportunities for a better position in acquiring future tenants and building up the customer reserve. City Development Plaza successfully introduced well-known enterprises as its tenants such as Covance, Spectris and China Audit Asia Pacific CPA, which rapidly filled up the vacant area. Furthermore, it also completed the lease renewal of approximately 8,000 sq. m. for a visa centre on its podium, thus stabilizing the occupancy rate of the building.
The Victory management team conducted a quick survey on post-epidemic consumption and brand expansion needs, formulated timely adjustment strategies and measures, and precisely and efficiently attracted targeted potential tenants. Victory Plaza introduced a number of top brands of diverse business formats, so as to achieve the enrichment of business formats and the optimization of brands on the first two floors, as well as the re-positioning and brand promotion of the food & beverage outlets on the fifth and sixth floor in the mall. A total of approximately 7,000 sq. m. of newly contracted area was accomplished during the year, and the renewal rent for expiring area increased by approximately 4%.
Hangzhou Victory made great effort in expanding its customer resources. Through utilizing the favorable opportunity arising from the presence of Hangzhou Customs as its significant tenant, it also rapidly renewed the lease with Qiantang Wisevalley, its first anchor tenant, and successfully introduced two Fortune 500 companies, China Railway Construction and China Communications Water Conservancy, and a number of high-quality enterprises. The newly signed and renewed lease area was approximately 9,000 square meters for the year, and retained multiple core tenants of the building.
Active promotion of asset appreciation projects to achieve value preservation and appreciation of properties
In the year of 2020, the Manager continued to invest in a number of asset renovation and upgrading projects, which included carrying out the unit decoration of GZIFC office buildings of about 4,300 sq.m. in total, upgrading projects on the image of Ascott Serviced Apartment, replacing fresh air ventilators and upgrading video surveillance system of City Development Plaza, the generator refitting project of White House Building, upgrading video surveillance system and renovating washrooms in Shanghai Yue Xiu Tower and decorating its leasing units of about 4,800 square meters, decorating the office area around 2,000 square meters at Wuhan Yuexiu Fortune Center. Total investment was approximately RMB47 million. The vacancy periods for the renovated office units of each projects were effectively shortened and increased the level of rent, which improved the operating efficiency and business environment of the projects on a continuous basis.
Mr. Lin Deliang, Chairman, Executive Director and CEO of Yuexiu REIT said, "In 2021, China will continue to lead the world in economic recovery. The after-effect of the pandemic will gradually abate. The market can expect to improve. Yuexiu REIT will capitalize on the recovery in both consumption and the market as well as the economic restructuring by continuously taking the initiative in management, adjusting its property rental strategy flexibly and fully unlocking the potential value. Yuexiu REIT is committed to triggering off a second wave of growth in its business. Meanwhile, Yuexiu REIT will continue to seek for quality projects that fit in with its investment strategy, grasp opportunities for investment with growth potential, optimize its asset structure and improve the quality of its assets with a view to generating returns consistently for the unitholders.
Yuexiu Real Estate Investment Trust ("Yuexiu REIT", HKEX stock code: 00405) was listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited on 21 December 2005. It is the first listed real estate investment trust in the world investing in properties on the mainland of the People's Republic of China. Yuexiu REIT's properties portfolio consists of eight high-quality properties including Guangzhou International Finance Center, White Horse Building, Fortune Plaza, City Development Plaza, Victory Plaza, Shanghai Yue Xiu Tower, and Wuhan Properties (including "Wuhan Yuexiu Fortune Centre", "Starry Victoria Shopping Centre" and certain Carpark Spaces) and Hangzhou Victory, with a total area of ownership of approximately 973,000 square meters.