Emirates REIT was also helped by a favourable verdict on an outstanding rent payment by Jebel Ali School. The matter was settled by DIFC-LCIA. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The Dubai real estate fund manager Equitativa reported a 59.3 per cent increase in net profit for Emirates REIT, totalling $63.1 million for 2021, with the general lift in property values and assets across Dubai playing their part. This more than compensated for the $242.9 million loss Emirates REIT sustained during 2020.

Total property income came to $68.6 million, up 3.9 per cent annually, with occupancy gains helping the cause. As of end last year, the occupancy level was at 71.8 per cent, which increased to 81 per cent by end March. A key measure of performance, the Funds From Operations was at $18.4 million, 36 times the 2020 number.

“Our portfolio of high-quality commercial assets is ideally positioned to benefit from the continued momentum in the market,” said Sylvain Vieujot, Executive Deputy Chairman of Equitativa. “We also made considerable progress tackling legacy issues during the year, including the DIFC-LCIA award in favour of the REIT with regards to outstanding rent payments by the Jebel Ali School.”

The REIT booked a net unrealised gain on revaluation of $44.7 million in 2021 compared to a loss of $243.4 million in 2020, as its valuers CBRE and Cushman & Wakefield ‘considered the improving market sentiment in the UAE’s commercial and retail real estate markets’. The REIT’s portfolio is valued at $762.1 million as of end 2021, a 7.5 per cent increase. The net asset value (NAV) during the same period was $289.8 million, equating to a NAV per share of $0.95, or 28.3 per cent higher.

Thierry Leleu, the newly appointed CEO of Equitativa, said: “2022 will be a pivotal year for Emirates REIT. My new role as CEO will see me focused on further improving the operational efficiencies of the REIT and partnering with our stakeholders to enhance its capital structure with the aim to deliver sustainable growth in income and value to our shareholders.

“With our strong base of investors and balanced portfolio of very high-quality assets, we are well placed to take advantage of the upturn we’re seeing in the Dubai property market currently.”

New CEO for Equitativa
Thierry Leleu joined Equitativa as Deputy CEO in November 2021, and has a track record of building and managing REITs. Until September 2020, he was the CIO of Cromwell European REIT, a trust that listed in Singapore in late 2017. During his tenure there, he grew the portfolio by 50 per cent.