“Our strategic focus is to concentrate on multi-functional shopping centres in growing urban areas. During the third quarter, we continued to execute on our strategy and successfully opened our newest shopping centre Mölndal Galleria in greater Gothenburg in Sweden. The new centre consist of 26,000 square meters of retail, groceries, food and beverage as well as services with excellent connections to public transportation at the heart of the growing city of Mölndal. Mölndal Galleria is a true testimony to Citycon’s strategy to recycle and deploy capital to high quality irreplaceable assets in growing urban areas. We have been very pleased with how Mölndal Galleria has been received by the local community and we are confident that it will be the social and commercial hub of the surrounding community.
In January-September 2018 our business developed in line with our expectations. Our operating performance remained solid, but our EPRA earnings declined to EUR 0.123 as a result of disposals and negative currency impact. However, thanks to our strict cost management measures, administrative expenses declined significantly. During the reporting period, net rental income amounted to EUR 161 million and the pro-forma like-for-like net rental income, which includes Iso Omena and Buskerud shopping centres for the April-September period, grew by 0.8%.
During the third quarter, we successfully completed the re-financing of a bond expiring in 2020. In August, we issued a EUR 300 million Eurobond to institutional investors and used most of the proceeds to buy back part of a EUR 500 million bond expiring in 2020. As a result, we de-risked the re-financing of a large bond expiring in 2020, whilst the average cost of debt improved to 2.36% and the average loan maturity now clearly exceeds our target of over 5 years.
In the retail industry a noticeable divergence between the best and other assets is clearly visible. We continue to see this polarization also in our asset portfolio. The performance in our prime shopping centres in major urban areas remained good during January-September 2018, while the development in secondary shopping centres, particularly in Finland, was softer. As a result, the fair value changes of our investment properties were EUR -54.2 million during January-September 2018 driven by Finland and Norway. Due to negative fair value changes and higher debt, our loan-to-value metric increased to 48.2% at the end of September. Lowering the loan-to-value remains a key priority for management. We aim to divest EUR 200-400 million of assets in the coming few years and use the proceeds to strengthen our balance sheet.
With three quarters of the year now behind us and after the announced divestments, we have specified our guidance range. We now expect our EPRA EPS to be in the range of EUR 0.1575-0.1675 for the full year 2018.“
Source: Citycon's Interim Report, January-September2018