“During our first 100 days, Citycon’s new management has hit the ground running. During the first quarter of 2019 we completed an organizational change in order to intensify our focus on asset management, which included the establishment of one shopping center management function for all countries and introducing a new specialty leasing business unit as well as centralized purchasing. The new organization provides consistency across the portfolio and ensures we have the necessary resources in place to spend more time at the assets with the ultimate aim of increasing the value of our portfolio. We have assets with tremendous footfall across the Nordics and we see significant future potential with our expanded specialty leasing business, which includes common area leasing and media sales. Thanks to our urban locations with public transportation connections, our assets have great densification potential going forward and we have many interesting opportunities in our development pipeline.
Operational performance in January-March 2019 was solid and our net rental income totaled EUR 53.6 million. Our EPRA earnings remained stable and EPRA EPS was EUR 0.201, which included some remaining one-time restructuring costs related to organizational changes. Excluding these one-off costs, the EPRA EPS grew and amounted to EUR 0.207. The tight cost control continued during the quarter and administrative expenses declined 12% year-on-year excluding restructuring costs. Leasing spread of renewals and re-lettings was also positive during the first quarter of the year and we were particularly pleased to see a positive leasing spread in Finland for the first time in a number of years. Looking at our guidance for 2019, we have kept our guidance unchanged.
Strengthening balance sheet remains a priority for us. Currently we are in active discussions regarding the potential disposal of some secondary assets. During the first quarter we agreed to sell a land plot adjacent to our Columbus shopping centre in Helsinki, Finland. We will continue to recycle capital going forward as our vision is to focus on multi-functional shopping centres that are connected to public transportation in growing urban areas.
In March, our Annual General Meeting was held in the Iso Omena shopping centre in Espoo, Finland. The AGM approved the Board of Director's proposal of carrying out a reverse split on the Citycon share and trading with the new shares started on March 18, 2019. Due to the reverse split, conducted in a 5:1 ratio, the per share figures of January-March 2019 have changed accordingly. In addition, the AGM approved the Board of Director’s asset distribution proposal and the first distribution was paid in March 2019.
After the reporting period in early April, our Iso Omena shopping centre in Finland was awarded the best large expansion project in Europe by the International Council of Shopping Centres. We are very proud of this great accomplishment, which is also an acknowledgment to our development capabilities. “
Source: Citycon's Interim Report Q1/2019