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Frasers Commercial Trust Q1 DPU down 4.4% on lower occupancies

FRASERS Commercial Trust (FCOT) has posted a first-quarter distribution per unit (DPU) of 2.40 Singapore cents, down 4.4 per cent from 2.51 Singapore cents in the same period a year earlier as property income fell while the number of issued units had increased.

The topline took a hit from lower occupancy rates at Alexandra Technopark, China Square Central, 55 Market Street and Perth's Central Park.

Gross revenue for the first quarter ended Dec 31, 2017 dipped 11 per cent to S$35.3 million from the same period a year earlier. China Square Central was impacted by planned vacancies to facilitate asset enhancement works at the retail podium.

A weaker Australian dollar also dented takings.

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Net property income fell 14.9 per cent to S$24.9 million. Half of this came from FCOT's three Singapore buildings and half from its three properties in Australia.

In December, FCOT announced its maiden acquisition in the United Kingdom. It expects to complete its purchase of a 50 per cent stake in Farnborough Business Park by the end of January.

Meanwhile, the S$45 million makeover of Alexandra Technopark announced a year ago is slated to be completed in the middle of this year.

China Square Central's retail podium will also undergo a S$38 million asset enhancement starting in the first quarter of 2018 with completion expected by mid-2019.

FCOT had a 80.3 per cent average occupancy rate as at Dec 31 and an average committed occupancy rate of 86.6 per cent.

WeWork Singapore, the co-working space operator, has committed to lease around 28,700 sq ft of space at one of China Square Central's heritage shophouse blocks, FCOT added in its results filing on Monday.

WeWork will take up the space in phases starting with 16,800 sq ft in the second half of 2018.

Jack Lam, chief executive of the Reit manager, said: "We are delighted to welcome WeWork to China Square Central ... The take-up by WeWork is a strong testament to the attractiveness of China Square Central as a work and business location. We foresee rising demand for co-working facilities and other non-traditional workplace formats in light of the continuous evolution of work culture and reshaping of the business ecosystem."

First-quarter earnings per unit was 1.64 Singapore cents, down from 2.36 Singapore cents in the same period a year earlier.

Net asset value per share was 1.55 Singapore cents as at Dec 31.

FCOT had a gearing of 34.8 per cent as at Dec 31, and an interest coverage ratio of 4.3 times.

The counter added two Singapore cents or 1.31 per cent to close at S$1.55 on Monday.

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