URW shares contingency plans as Covid-19 impacts rise

Global property giant and mall specialist Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) has shared its contingency plans as political forces impact its portfolio management in the evolving Covid-19 crisis.

The owner and operator of 90 shopping centres on two continents said that government actions in the 12 countries where it is active were affecting the group's operations, but that it was 'not currently possible to estimate the extent of the impact on the group’s earnings'.

'Local authorities have required all non-essential stores to close in France, Spain, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. As such, the group’s shopping centres in these markets are substantially closed (supermarkets, food stores, and pharmacies are typically allowed to open),' the bulletin announced.

'Some limitations to trading hours also apply in Denmark. The group’s other shopping centres continue to trade as normal for now, albeit with reduced footfall, although URW expects other governments may adopt similar measures in due course.'

The firm also announced that its convention and exhibitions business is seeing an impact, with the French government currently restricting any events of more than 100 people. 'The group’s offices division is not affected at this point,' URW added.

However, URW acknowleged the mounting pressure on its retail tenants, with whom it said it was in 'active dialogue'. URW said it was actively reducing non-staff expenses, deferring non-essential capital expenditure and would make use of any relevant facilities or arrangements provided by the various national authorities to assist companies through the crisis.

'In weathering these events URW benefits from a geographically diversified exposure and, if required, has access to undrawn credit facilities to manage its liquidity needs,' the firm concluded, pledging to continue with updates as the situation unfolds.

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