€660m Abrdn European REIT mulls sale or merger

Shares of Abrdn European Logistics Income plc, a real estate investment trust with assets of almost €660 million, rose about 6% on Monday after it announced a strategic review which could result in a sale or a merger of the company.

The fund said it will consider all options available that offer maximum value for its shareholders including, but not limited to “undertaking some form of consolidation, combination, merger or comparable corporate action, selling the entire issued share capital of the company … and selling the company’s portfolio and returning monies to shareholders.”

It said there is no certainty that any changes will result from the strategic review and “a continuation of the company’s current investment strategy with a rebased target dividend level is a potential outcome of the strategic review.”

Abrdn European Logistics Income chairman Tony Roper said: “The board’s priority at all times is to act in the best interests of shareholders.

“Whilst we retain a strong conviction in the strategy, today’s proactive decision to launch a strategic review largely reflects the unprecedented macro backdrop that real estate companies are operating against and provides greater optionality to deliver shareholder value.”

In a stock exchange statement, the fund said: “Abrdn European Logistics Income plc was launched in December 2017 with the investment objective of providing an attractive level of income and capital growth from investing in high quality mid-box and urban logistics real estate in Continental Europe.

“The company’s investment proposition at launch was largely centred on the premise that e-commerce penetration in Europe was significantly behind the UK, and that the forecast growth to follow would provide an attractive backdrop to an investment in high-quality European logistics real estate.

“The investment manager has delivered on this strategy on behalf of the company, utilising its local asset managers to establish a portfolio of 26 operational mid-box and urban logistics real estate assets, diversified across the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Poland, valued at €659.75 million …

“While the broader investment proposition remains cogent, the board recognises that the company, like many of its peers across the wider listed real estate sector, faces a number of challenges, at both a macro and company specific level.

“The company’s annual target dividend of 5.64 cents (€) per share remains materially uncovered, and a reduction in this target level would be required to achieve a fully covered, sustainable dividend in the foreseeable future.

“With a market capitalisation of £234 million and an IFRS Net Asset Value of €411.3 million, the company remains of a size which might deter some potential investors due to lower share liquidity and a higher relative cost base, despite the company benefiting from a competitive investment management fee arrangement.

“In addition, the company’s shares have continued to trade at a significant and persistent discount to net asset value per share, which the board and investment manager believe does not reflect the long-term prospects of the portfolio.

“In line with its constitutional terms as set out on launch in December 2017, the company is required to propose a continuation vote at its next Annual General Meeting, expected to be held in June 2024.

“With that in mind, and cognisant of the feedback received from a number of shareholders in recent meetings, the board believes that the current point in time represents an appropriate juncture at which to consider more fully the basis on which the company might best proceed, having regard for the best interests of shareholders as a whole.

“Accordingly, the board today announces that it is undertaking a strategic review of the options available to the company …”