REIT WATCH

S-Reits hedge against rising interest rates

THE iEdge S-Reit Index declined 3 per cent in total returns in 2022 year to date (YTD), amid geopolitical escalations, macro uncertainty and increasing expectations of a potential rate hike.

Despite the decline, it remained one of the most defensive Reit indices globally, with the FTSE EPRA Nareit Developed Index declining 7 per cent during the same period.

Interest rates have always been a key driver for the sector, given the impact on yield spreads and borrowing costs.

S-Reits have been actively managing their interest rate exposures.

On average, close to 75 per cent of S-Reits' current debts are entered directly in fixed rates or hedged through floating-to-fixed interest rate swaps.

S-Reits currently have an average gearing ratio of 37.4 per cent, based on latest company filings, well below the regulatory threshold of 50 per cent.

This translates into approximately S$24.6 billion (based on Bloomberg data for total assets multiplied by company-reported gearing ratio) of potential debt headroom for the sector, to fund capital-intensive acquisitions.

The 5 S-Reits that maintain the lowest gearing ratios are Sasseur Reit, CRPU Digital Core Reit, DCRU SPH Reit, SK6U IReit Global UD1U and Lendlease Global Commercial Reit. JYEU Sasseur Reit reported a gearing of 26.1 per cent as of Dec 31, 2021, the lowest among all S-Reits.

The Reit noted that this demonstrated strong fundamentals of the portfolio as well as prudent capital management, with an expanded debt headroom to pursue potential acquisition opportunities.

With an average debt maturity of 1.2 years as at Dec 31, 2021, the Reit is actively exploring refinancing opportunities with a view to de-risk the current debt profile by staggering its debt maturity and amount.

Sasseur Reit posted FY2021 distribution per unit (DPU) of 7.104 Singapore cents, up 8.5 per cent year on year. The Reit's 4 outlets in China recorded total sales of almost 4.2 billion yuan in FY2021, representing a growth of 12.3 per cent year on year.

The Reit also observed continued robust consumption trends in the cities where its outlets are located, coupled with intensive promotional efforts in close collaboration with tenants which led to the higher sales.

Listed in 2021, Digital Core Reit is a pure-play data centre Reit with an initial public offering (IPO) portfolio of 10 quality freehold data centres located across the United States and Canada.

The Reit reported a gearing of 27.0 per cent as at IPO, noting ample debt headroom and potential to fuel outsized growth prospects.

In its FY2021 financial release, SPH Reit reported a gearing of 30.3 per cent with revolving credit facility lines of S$225 million undrawn as at Aug 31, 2021, providing ample debt headroom and additional liquidity if needed.

The Reit noted that its loans were refinanced in FY2021 at a lower interest rate, resulting in lower average cost of debt of 1.84 per cent, compared to 2.66 per cent in FY2020.

As at Nov 30, 2022, the Reit's average cost of debt is at 1.68 per cent and has a weighted average term to maturity of 2.7 years. SGX RESEARCH

For more research and information on Singapore's Reit sector, visit sgx.com/research-education/sectors for the monthly S-Reits & Property Trusts Chartbook.

Source: SGX Research S-Reits & Property Trusts Chartbook.

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