CEO F. Scott Ball:

2020 will be remembered historically for the widespread challenges caused by the breakout of COVID-19, Citycon has thus far managed to navigate through this crisis and its performance was one of the best in our sector. The operational and financial results were very strong given the circumstances, and our strategy has proven successful when measured against the ultimate stress test caused by the pandemic and its consequences. The large share of necessity-based tenants as well as operating in the Nordic countries, that have outperformed in responding to the crisis, were the factors underlying our strong performance.   

Our strategy was positively reflected in the key operational metrics. The rent collection rate for 2020 was 96%. Tenant sales in our centres slightly exceeded last year which is a direct result from our tenant mix and a large share of necessity categories such as groceries, pharmacies and municipal and healthcare services. We did see consumer behaviour adjust to the government recommendations with footfall declining by 12%. However, the average purchase per visit increased by 16% resulting in a slight gain in tenant sales over 2019, as people visited our centres with a clear intention to make purchases. This highlights the strength of our strategy as well as the attractiveness of our centres to our tenants as a place to run profitable businesses. The strength of our assets also resulted in high leasing activity. We signed 199,000 sq.m. of leases compared to 177,000 sq.m. in 2019. As a result of several important municipal service deals, the share of municipality leases increased to 8% in line with our strategy.   

Strong operational performance of our tenants and centres translated into solid financial performance for Citycon. Our like-for-like NRI (adjusted for currencies) declined by -3%.  and our NRI declined from 217.4 million to 205.4 million as a result of weakening of NOK and impact of COVID-19. EPRA EPS was 0.77, which was in the upper half of previous guidance. COVID-19 affected our result, with an estimated total impact of 13.5 million euros, primarily through income driven revenue items, such as parking fees and specialty leasing, and minor discounts given in Q2. Retail occupancy for 2020 was 94.3% and LTV 46.9%.

During 2020 we made significant progress in improving our financing position and continued to focus on strengthening the balance sheet. In Q2 we decided to temporarily increase our liquidity due to the uncertainty in the financial market caused by COVID-19. In May 2020, we issued a tap bond of 200 MEUR with an orderbook more than threfold oversubscribed. This demonstrated Citycon’s access to capital markets also in challenging financial market conditions. Furthermore, we issued an 800 MNOK bond in fall 2020 and renewed and extended our 500 MEUR RCF with two replacing facilities. Citycon’s Board showed its commitment to strengthening the balance sheet by adjusting the dividend in Q2 which now stays at a very attractive 6.3% dividend yield. A strong balance sheet continues to be a top priority and Citycon therefore continues  its capital recycling initiatives after a slow-down in the transaction market caused by COVID-19. Citycon recently signed a deal to sell three of our assets in Stockholm area for approximately 147 MEUR. Not only was this an important measure for improving our balance sheet but it also validates our asset values with actual market data.

During the year we continued to make progress in our strategic initiatives. We continued the construction of Lippulaiva throughout the pandemic and launched several other development initiatives such as the area development in Liljeholmen, our existing urban hub located in the heart of Stockholm. This is a comprehensive project which will include residential and office development in close co-operation with the City of Stockholm. These are both showcases of our broader densification strategy and transformation of our portfolio further towards mix-use by ultimately decreasing the share of retail from current 81% to approximately 60% while increasing the share of residential and office space. Going forward, we will continue capitalizing on the densification potential and realizing the identified building rights potential of ca. 200 MEUR. This value is embedded in our existing portfolio and will be realized through zoning processes with essentially no capital investments. We have a strong team in place to execute on this strategy.

COVID-19 is by no means over and we continue our efforts to adapt and respond to the changing situation. We continue to work closely with the surrounding societies and have opened vaccination services to our centres that serve as local community hubs. The safety of our tenants, visitors and employees continues to be a priority.  In 2021 we will continue to further define our operating strategy and progress new development projects from our development pipeline. We will also continue to execute our capital recycling strategy transaction market allowing. Our team has demonstrated their ability to execute under difficult circumstances and I am certain our diversification through densification strategy will pay big rewards for the company.












Source: Citycon's Financial Statements Release 2020