By Federica Mileo and Valentine Baldassari
-Unibail, the owner of London’s Westfield shopping mall, said on Thursday it expected 2022 adjusted earnings per share to exceed last year’s level, encouraged by the recovery seen in the second half of 2021.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which had not previously given an earnings guidance for 2022 or beyond, sees full-year adjusted recurring earnings per share to be in the range of 8.20 euros to 8.40 euros, compared with 6.91 euros it reported for 2021.
After months of on-and-off restrictions which kept many shopping centres shut across Europe due to the pandemic, Unibail is now anticipating a return to normal as health measures ease and fears of new lockdowns fade.
“On footfall and tenancies, assuming no reintroduction of major COVID-19 related restrictions, we are confident to return to 2019 levels in 2022 and grow from there,” Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marie Tritant said in a call.
But the group does not expect its convention and exhibition division’s net operating income to reach pre-COVID levels this year.
Unibail, which counts Forum des Halles in Paris and Madrid’s La Vaguada among its assets, said full-year rent collection came in at 88%, compared to 80% reported in 2020, with tenant sales reaching 93% of pre-COVID levels in the second half.
The group, which has been selling its European and U.S assets to reduce debt, said it had agreed to sell a 45% stake in Westfield Carre Senart shopping centre in France to Societe Generale Assurances and BNP Paribas Cardif for an implied price of around 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion).
Upon closing the transaction, Unibail will have completed 2.5 billion euros of its 4-billion-euro European disposal programme.
Driven by the progress in European disposals and streamlining of its U.S. portfolio, the group’s net debt decreased from 24.2 billion euros to 22.6 billion last year.
($1 = 0.8753 euros)