Retail Properties

Sunlight Reit expects strong market growth

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am

Strong demand for office and retail space will continue to underpin rental growth this year, Sunlight Real Estate Investment Trust said.

The property trust, with a portfolio of 20 office and retail properties in non-core areas such as Sheung Shui, Tseung Kwan O and Sheung Wan, reported distributable income of HK$79 million for the first half to December, or an interim distribution per unit of 7.44 HK cents. Net property income was HK$153.03 million.

A year-on-year comparison was not available because the trust was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange on December 21, 2006.

At the end of last year, the average passing rent - the average net rental for all leased gross rentable area - for offices jumped 10.2 per cent to HK$16.20 per square foot from HK$14.70 per square foot as of June 30. Occupancy stood at a record high of 96.9 per cent.

Monthly rents for retail space rose 5.1 per cent from HK$37 per square foot to HK$38.90 and the occupancy rate fell slightly to 97.4 per cent from 97.7 per cent in mid-2007.

Despite a growing supply of office space, particularly in East Kowloon, Keith Wu Shiu-kee, chief executive and executive director for Henderson Sunlight Asset Management, the manager of the property trust, was upbeat, projecting strong demand and economic growth for Hong Kong and the mainland.

In its portfolio, average rental for the period, which included all gross rentable area involved in new letting and renewals, jumped 12.4 per cent to HK$19.90 per square foot, from HK$17.70 per square foot recorded in the six months to June 2006. The average rent for retail properties for the period climbed 3 per cent to HK$43.70 per square foot.

Mr Wu said the trust was actively looking for acquisition opportunities from Henderson Land, as planned before its listing.

The trust will acquire at least two office or retail properties from Henderson for not less than HK$2.7 billion. The deal is expected to be completed before June 21.