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Ascendas India Trust posts higher DPU for H1 FY20; makes higher provision for doubtful debts

ASCENDAS India Trust on Tuesday reported a higher distribution per unit (DPU) of 4.64 Singapore cents for its first half ended June 30,  compared to 3.75 cents paid out a year ago.

This was mainly due to the reversal of its dividend distribution tax (DDT) provision as a result of India’s abolition of the DDT policy from April 2020; other factors were the higher interest income from investments in forward purchases and modest growth in net property income, the business trust said.

The distribution will be paid on Aug 26. 

Total property income rose 3 per cent to S$99 million in Singapore dollar (SGD) terms, supported by income from Anchor building at International Tech Park Bangalore (which was completed in May 2019) and positive rental reversions, but this was partially offset by lower utilities and carpark income because of the Covid-19 lockdown in India.

The increase was slightly higher in Indian rupee (INR) terms because of a slight appreciation in SGD against the INR over the same period last year.

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Net property income went up by a smaller percentage of 1 per cent to S$73.5 million because of higher operating expenses, mainly due to higher allowance for expected credit loss.

Income available for distribution rose 36 per cent to S$59 million, bolstered by higher interest income from its investments in logistics infrastructure firm Arshiya and properties such as AURUM IT SEZ, aVance 5 and 6 and BlueRidge 3, lower current tax expenses and a higher provision of Singapore's goods and services tax in the first half of FY2019.

Its committed portfolio occupancy was 98 per cent as at end-June 2020. Operationally, all its IT parks have remained open throughout the first half of 2020, including the lockdown period, to support tenants’ operations.

Park Square, its retail mall in International Tech Park Bangalore, reopened on June 8 after 12 weeks of mandatory closure. However, the building was closed again from July 14 to 21, when Bangalore city went into lockdown.

"Attendance in our IT parks is increasing slowly as most tenants remain cautious," it said. 

The trust has also committed to rental reliefs, primarily to its retail tenants, to help them tide through the challenging period. 

"The situation remains fluid and the weak economic conditions brought about by Covid-19 could have an adverse impact on the performance of our properties. We have made higher provision for doubtful debts in H1 FY2020 on a prudence basis and will continue to monitor the situation."

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