UK investor Custodian REIT said on Wednesday that it has withdrawn from the acquisition of two regional offices, due to the coronavirus.
The firm, which owns a commercial property portfolio valued at roughly £560 mln, said the decision to pull out after having already agreed terms on the acquisitions, reflected the company’s new priority to preserve cash among the crisis.
‘The first quarter period started with increased confidence in commercial property investment following the general election and reduced uncertainty around Brexit. Sadly, all talk of confidence has now been eclipsed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the widespread impact on the economy in this country and globally,’ said Richard Shepherd-Cross, managing director of Custodian Capital, the company’s discretionary investment manager.
‘Our response has been to prioritise protecting cash flow and to secure the balance sheet. As a result the company has withdrawn from two acquisitions of regional offices on which terms had been agreed,' he said.
In the first quarter ended March 31, the company saw a slight decrease of 2.7% of its net asset value which stood at £426.7 mln at end March, reflecting 101.6p per share. Custodian was able to collect 74% of rent contractually due relating to the month of April while it has agreed to refer payments on a further 14%, it added.
‘In the near-term, of even more importance than the NAV derived from current valuations is the absolute focus on rent collection, future cash flow, ongoing asset management and the affordability of future dividends,’ the company said.