Back in Part 1, I had the opportunity to speak to Mapletree Commercial Trust’s CEO, Ms Sharon Lim, about questions regarding the merger. This is Part 2 of the interviews with both CEOs of MCT & MNACT, regarding the proposed merger. In Part 2, I speak to MNACT CEO, Ms Cindy Chow, regarding the latest FY21/22 results and regarding the merger with MCT.
- Circular to MCT Unitholders dated 29 April 2022 in relation to the Proposed Merger of MCT and MNACT
- Presentation dated 29 April 2022 in relation to the Proposed Merger of MCT and MNACT
- Responses to Substantial and Relevant Questions (13 May 2022)
- Responses to Additional Substantial and Relevant Questions (17 May 2022)
- Scheme Document dated 29 April 2022 (for MNACT Unitholders)
- Presentation Slides – Proposed Merger of MCT and MNACT
- Responses to Substantial and Relevant Questions (17 May 2022)
Based on the latest update, Gateway Plaza has -24% average rental reversion whereas The Pinnacle Gangnam has +44% average rental reversion. What are the reasons for such performance, are there structural changes on the underlying environment? Would this trend continue into the next few quarters, and how does it affect the DPU?
- In Beijing1, new supply in the central business district (“CBD”) with more affordable rental rates as well as relocations of tenants to decentralised office areas (such as Wangjing) to achieve cost savings, have resulted in rental declines in office districts such as Lufthansa. Gateway Plaza is an office building located in Lufthansa, a well-established commercial hub in Beijing.
- The MNACT Manager had, and continues to prioritise high occupancy level at Gateway Plaza, to minimise downtime and ensure cash flow stability. As a result, occupancy rate improved from 92.9% as at 31 March 2021 to 94.3% as at 31 March 2022. However, rental rates were lower and an average rental reversion of negative 24% was recorded for FY21/22.
- Looking ahead1, rents for Beijing office districts, such as Lufthansa, which are nearer to the CBD, are expected to remain stable in the near-term. Based on market views, rents are likely to rise in late 2022 or early 2023.
- In line with Beijing’s opening up of the services industry, tenants from these business services segments, in addition to the technology, media and telecommunications, as well as financial services and media sectors, are expected to form the bulk of leasing demand at Lufthansa and benefit Gateway Plaza1. In the second half of FY21/22, Gateway Plaza has also attracted new tenants from the environmental consulting and waste recycling sectors.
- Occupancy rate at Gateway Plaza is expected to remain high, with active marketing and leasing of office space.
The Pinnacle Gangnam
- South Korea’s Grade A office market1 has shown strong growth in 2021 despite the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, and benefits from attractive market dynamics including built-in rental escalations. Vacancy rates decreased in all major districts, including the strong performing submarket of Gangnam Business District (“GBD”), supported by high-growth tech companies that are still performing well despite COVID-191.
- The Pinnacle Gangnam is an office building located in GBD, Seoul. Consequently, The Pinnacle Gangnam has achieved a positive rental reversion of 44% in FY21/22, coupled with a high occupancy rate of 97.3% as at 31 March 2022.
- For the Seoul office market2, with limited supply, on-going demand for office spaces due to the expansion of technology and pharmaceutical companies is expected to persist for the next few years. The Pinnacle Gangnam is in a good position to benefit from the strong leasing demand from these high-growth sectors, and to deliver organic growth through the high proportion of leases with built-in rental escalation during the lease term.
- Source: Colliers International (Hong Kong) Limited, 30 March 2022 (link)
- Source: Colliers, Seoul Quarterly, 21 January 2022 (link)
Is there any Plan B (if the Merger does not go through) for MNACT?
- Should the Merger not go through, MNACT will return to business as usual, remaining focused on safeguarding the long-term value for unitholders through proactive asset management, effective cost control and prudent capital management. At the same time, we will continue to source for yield accretive acquisitions to achieve greater diversification and growth of MNACT. MNACT has demonstrated its capabilities in driving inorganic growth through acquisitions of high quality properties spanning across multiple North Asian markets; including expanding beyond its IPO geographies and successfully acquiring nine office properties in Greater Tokyo (2018, 2020 and 2021) and one office property in Seoul (2020).
MNACT will return to business as usual, remaining focused on safeguarding the long-term value for unitholders through proactive asset management, effective cost control and prudent capital management.
- The Merger, on the other hand, will harness and combine the respective strengths of both REITs to create a more resilient and diversified platform. Over the years, we have been focused on growing and enhancing the resilience of MNACT’s portfolio through accretive acquisitions that provide both geographical and income diversification. The Merged Entity, MPACT, will have an even higher financial capability and flexibility to pursue value-creating acquisitions and fast-track its growth trajectory. We remain confident in the merits of the Merger and the exciting future ahead.
What are your priorities for the next 1-2 year post Merger? How do you split the work with Ms Sharon Lim?
- As announced on 21 March 2022, it is intended that Ms. Lim Hwee Li Sharon who currently holds the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director in the MCT Manager, will retain these positions in the manager of the Merged Entity following the completion of the Merger. On or about the completion of the Merger, it is intended that the MNACT Manager will retire as the manager of MNACT and the MCT Manager will be appointed as the manager of the Merged Entity.
- Following the Merger, the MCT Manager intends to implement its proactive and tailored “4R” asset and capital management strategy to realise the benefits from the Merger. For more details on the “4R” asset and capital management strategy, you may refer to Paragraph 4.2 in Appendix B – Offeror’s Letter to MNACT Unitholders of the Scheme Document (link).