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As temperatures have reached near record highs in Brussels, investor outreach has been our hot topic this month. Our Hong Kong team hosted a very successful 8th Asia Week, with visits to four cities in just four days, two seminars in Singapore and Hong Kong and more than 90 one-on-one meetings with local investors.
 
At the same time, our continental Europe team attended the Iberian Property Summit where EPRA moderated the investors round table on governance, compliance and transparency, which brought together representatives from some of the largest Iberian real estate companies. EPRA also held its Investor Relations Committee meeting in Dublin, with a unique set-up consisting of company members presentations to selected institutional investors.
 
As we are refocusing our education activities on more ‘generalist’ institutional investors, we went to Berlin, where we met with GDV, the German Insurance Association and MEAG, the asset management arm of German re-insurance giant Munich Re. I firmly believe that although it may take some time, when large generalist investors make even relatively small shifts in asset allocations the impact can be substantial. I will be further talking about asset allocation between liquid and illiquid markets in a few days, at the annual Bloomberg Family Offices Symposium in Luxembourg attended by 150 representatives from the family and multi-family offices community.
 
EPRA is growing strong and as always strives to work with and for its members. In this spirit, I am very happy to report that we are at a record membership level, with over 240 members. Deepening our ties with other real estate associations on issues where we have common agendas is another way of leveraging our efforts and efficiency. This month I met with GRESB and INREV and I look forward to our strengthened cooperation on reporting and regulatory issues. We have also recently launched a new publication – the Research Digest, which is a direct reply to our members request to ensure that works commissioned by the Research Committee gets the attention they deserve. Make sure you are on the distribution list by emailing us at research@epra.com.

Dominique Moerenhout
EPRA CEO
Book your seat before the summer break! #EPRAConf
EPRA NEWS

Polish REIT regime under way

End of May, the Polish Ministry of Finance presented an amended version of the Polish REIT legislation. The revised draft introduces several important modifications, for which EPRA was actively advocating, among which the extension of REITs to operate also in the residential real estate market and the lowering of the registered share capital from PLN 60m to PLN 50m (approx. EUR 12m). In its current form, the draft provides that a REIT’s income derived from lease of real properties, disposal of real properties or disposal of shares in a REIT’s subsidiaries should be exempt from corporate tax until the income is distributed as dividends. Dividends would be subject to corporate tax at 8.5% upon their distribution, irrespective if the investor is individual or institutional, Polish or foreign. EPRA shared its additional comments with the Polish REIT association as well as with the EBRD, which were invited to comment on the draft.  The new draft REIT law is intended to come into force on 1 January 2018.

Contribution of the listed sector on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

As part of the ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans’ initiative, the Commission proposed an update to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. The goal is to promote the use of smart technology in buildings and to introduce mechanisms for de-risking energy efficiency operations for investors and the private sector. EPRA took this opportunity to share with MEPs the experience of our members, as listed property companies show a much better environmental performance than their private counterparts (as reported by GRESB). EPRA expressed its support to MEPs for the draft report by MEP Bendt Bendtsen and stresses that listed real estate companies can be part of the solution. Europe needs a regulatory framework which would enable long-term investors to invest in real estate through those listed property companies which outperform their counterparts in their allocation to promote energy efficiency.

Value effects of sustainable investment

Do environmentally sustainable properties offer benefits for the financial performance of the firms investing in them? The recent research from Cornell University suggests that sustainable investment increases funds available for distribution to shareholders. The authors of this research focus on assessing listed property companies from the US and the UK where the baseline level of environmental reporting is mandatory for the latter but not for the former. The findings show that in the US, having a higher share of sustainable properties is associated with higher rental values. These firms are also found to incur higher operating expenses due to high-tech nature of the buildings. On a corporate level, the researchers find that lower interest expenses are associated with investment in more sustainable properties. In the case of the UK, the findings are less distinct but still show that investments in sustainability-certified properties lead to higher earnings and improved valuation outcomes. To learn more about EPRA research discover the first edition of the EPRA Research Digest.

Towards a global template for property companies’ financial statements

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is exploring targeted improvements to the structure and content of the primary financial statements, with a focus on the statement(s) of financial performance. The Primary Financial Statements (PFS) project is currently in its early stages and provides an opportunity to develop a global template for the financial statements of property companies, among other sectors. This project is part of the Board’s plan to promote better communication in financial reporting. After further research, the Board expects to publish either an exposure draft or a discussion paper. EPRA has been actively involved in the project since the beginning and, together with our US and Canadian partners, has met with IASB board members and staff. EPRA has also formed a Financial Regulation subcommittee, which has already provided its comments on issues connected to the IASB PFS project and serves as a liaison between the Board and our company members.
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