Asset Plus profit up 207%, Albany project rising, plans for Auckland CBD expansion

New Zealand’s smallest listed real estate vehicle pushed up profit 207 per cent and updated the market on its two real estate projects.

Asset Plus, whose managing director is Mark Francis, said it made $15.95 million for the year to March 31, 2021, a turnaround after the $14.6m loss last year when it was hit by devaluations.

It might not stay small for long because its number one objective it says is to “increase the scale of the portfolio”.

Asset Plus chairman, Bruce Cotterill said today: “One of our most significant achievements in the past 12 months was securing the large-scale development at Munroe Lane, Albany, which is an important step towards repositioning the existing portfolio. Going forward, the leasing of 35 Graham Street, Auckland is now a key focus to further build out the portfolio in terms of quality and scale.”

Asset Plus raised $60.2m new capital in the year and booked unrealised property revaluation gains of $9.2m.

The ex-Auckland Council service centre at 35 Graham St is being emptied to have three extra floors added, overlooking the Viaduct.

“Asset Plus is pleased to have obtained resource consent for the proposed redevelopment of 35 Graham St and our focus is now on leasing this property, with marketing now underway,” it said today.

“The leasing success will determine the ultimate scale of the project as we seek a level of pre-commitment before commencing this potentially material redevelopment, which would be subject to shareholder approval.

“The full-scale redevelopment and addition of three further levels remains the preferred approach, and would increase the portfolio weighting to the desirable Auckland market and further increase the WALE, scale and quality of the portfolio,” it said.

The company has a deal to sell Christchurch’s Eastgate Shopping Centre. Settlement is due between August and next February.

The company’s big play is at Albany’s Munroe Lane where it is building the council’s new northern service centre in a $200m-plus project for around 1200 people.

“The Munroe Lane development is tracking well and scheduled for completion within the target completion date of December 2022. The majority of delivery costs have now been fixed are in line with budget and the full contingency currently remains intact,” the company said today.

Munroe Lane could add a further $122m to the portfolio on completion, the company said.

In February, it revived $350m plans to expand an Auckland CBD office block by adding extra levels on the heritage-listed structure.

Despite the lockdown and a rising trend of people working from home, the business then moved confidently to restart its project, shelved during the lockdown last year but which could create an asset valued on completion of up to $350m.

Francis said at the time that plans for the office block at 35 Graham St above Fanshawe St were back on because office space was still in strong demand, despite trends for more people to work from home.

Today, Asset Plus said total administration expenses were $1.74m, up on last year’s $1.64m.

Asset Plus shares are trading around 32c, down 15 per cent annually. Its market cap is $116m.

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