Ascendas REIT - DBS Research 2021-03-18: Powering Ahead With Entry Into Europe’s FLAP Markets

ASCENDAS REAL ESTATE INV TRUST (SGX:A17U) | SGinvestors.io ASCENDAS REAL ESTATE INV TRUST (SGX:A17U)

Ascendas REIT - Powering Ahead With Entry Into Europe’s FLAP Markets

  • Acquisition of S$960m European data centre portfolio in line with our projections.
  • Attractive initial yield of 6.0% for highly sought-after data centre properties.
  • Ascendas REIT is trading at forward yields of 5.4%; one of the highest among the large-cap industrial REITs.



Ascendas REIT's acquisition of European data centre portfolio


Entry into the FLAP markets with a ~ S$1bn deal

  • Acquisition of 11 data centres mark Ascendas REIT (SGX:A17U)’s entry into 3 of the 4 FLAP markets (Frankfurk, London, Amsterdam and Paris) - the top-tier data centre markets in Europe that are expected to benefit from large populations and their connectivity and infrastructure.
  • Total purchase price of S$904.6m (S$960.0m including all other costs and fees):
    • 4 in UK: S$460.3m (two triple-net powered shell, two colocation)
    • 3 in Netherlands: S$232.2m (two triple-net powered shell, one colocation).
    • 3 in France: S$172.3m (three triple-net powered shell)
    • 1 in Switzerland: S$40.12 (one triple-net powered shell)
  • NPI yield of 6.0%: yield of 5.7% (post-costs).
  • Occupancy rate of 97.9% with a WALE of 4.6 years.
  • Of the 11 data centres, 6 are freehold, 2 on perpetual leasehold basis, and 3 on leasehold (between 39 – 104 years). Weighted average land lease expiries for the 5 properties on leasehold is 42.9 years.
  • Purchase consideration is at a slight ~0.03% discount to valuation.

Attractive NPI yield of 6.0%

  • The overall portfolio NPI yield of 6.0% appears very attractive, given that nine of the 11 properties are in London, Amsterdam and Paris, which are ranked as 3 of the top 4 largest colocation markets in Europe.
  • 83% of this portfolio will have rental escalations of between 1.0% and 3.0% per annum.
  • More than half of leases are on 3% annual rental escalations.
  • Digital Realty will provide property and facility management services for the first year. Thereafter, a team from Ascendas REIT’s Sponsor will oversee operations.

Attractive NPI yield of 6.0%

  • The overall portfolio NPI yield of 6.0% appears very attractive, given that 9 of the 11 properties are in London, Amsterdam and Paris, which are ranked as 3 of the top 4 largest colocation markets in Europe.
  • 83% of this portfolio will have rental escalations of between 1.0% and 3.0% per annum. More than half of leases are on 3% annual rental escalations.
  • Digital Realty will provide property and facility management services for the first year. Thereafter, a team from AREIT’s Sponsor will oversee operations.

Well-staggered lease expiry profile

  • Minimal lease expiries in the near term: 9.5% in FY21 (London and Manchester) and 12.3% in FY22 (Amsterdam and Manchester).
  • Only major lease expiry in 2024, accounts for 39.6% of the portfolio revenue. We believe that the majority of the expiries will be from the Croydon in the UK. Given its location and the strong demand in the UK, we believe that the tenant is likely to renew.
  • Potential for portfolio occupancy to improve given the continued strong demand for data centres in Europe, particularly in the FLAP markets.

Age of properties between 10 and 20 years old

  • Some capex may be required for the older assets that are close to 20 years old. Replacement and update of M&E may be capex intensive, especially if they must be upgraded to comply with emission standards in Europe. However, we understand that provisions have been made.
  • Another concern is the leasehold status of several properties, especially Cateringweg in Paris, France (remaining tenure of 39 years). European assets are typically on freehold land. However, the remaining land tenures of these properties are still relatively long and will not be a concern in the near future.

Optimal funding structure: 64% equity and 36% debt

  • Remaining S$612.5m from Ascendas REIT's fund-raising in December 2020 will be utilised to fund the acquisition.
    • S$347.5m will be funded with debt.
    • EUR and GBP debt will be taken to achieve a high level of natural hedge.
    • All-in cost of borrowings estimated to be ~2.0% per annum.
  • The acquisition is expected to create ~1.3% accretion to DPU (S$0.00189).


Our thoughts:

  • The total acquisition of ~ S$960m is in line with our earlier projections (S$1.0bn). The post-cost NPI yield of 5.7% is slightly higher than our assumptions of a 5.25% yield in our models. This acquisition will bring Ascendas REIT’s AUM to S$15.0bn and increase its exposure to the highly sought-after data centre asset class to 10% from its current 4%.
  • The high portfolio occupancy rate and annual rental escalations will provide income certainty and some organic growth for the portfolio. The portfolio will see minimal lease expiries in the next two years, and we believe that these expiring leases will see healthy demand and take-up rates.
  • We do recognise that capex may be required for some of the older properties and these may be significant if they include the upgrading and replacement of M&E services. However, no further details were shared on these capex requirements and we understand that management has a plan in place and has already made provisions.
  • Despite the longer-than-expected wait for this deal to be announced, we understand that the deal will be completed by the end of today and will contribute to Ascendas REIT’s revenue as soon as tomorrow. As such, our revenue projections remain largely unchanged and FY21 DPU forecast is maintained at S$0.161 per share. This implies a forward yield of 5.4%, one the most attractive yields among the large-cap industrial REITs.
  • See Ascendas REIT Share Price; Ascendas REIT Target Price; Ascendas REIT Analyst Reports; Ascendas REIT Dividend History; Ascendas REIT Announcements; Ascendas REIT Latest News.
  • We are maintaining our BUY recommendation on Ascendas REIT with a target price of S$4.00.





Dale LAI DBS Group Research | Derek TAN DBS Research | https://www.dbsvickers.com/ 2021-03-18
SGX Stock Analyst Report BUY MAINTAIN BUY 4.000 SAME 4.000



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