Waltus sorts out its KPMG Centre
By Chris Hutching
Waltus director Shayne Judge says the KPMG Centre in Auckland has been refinanced as predicted but is unlikely to enjoy a dramatic turnaround in values because of the malaise afflicting the inner city office market.
The KPMG Centre, owned by the Waltus Prime Properties syndicate, was recently refinanced in a deal that would increase the equity of the syndicate, he said. The refinancing was required because Commonwealth Bank was unprepared to roll over its existing loan.
An attempt to raise money from investors late last year failed after the Securities Commission found fault with a prospectus and ordered that monies be sent back.
So a competitive banking tender was held before Christmas and the successful tenderer was WestpacTrust, Mr Hodge said.
During the recent months of uncertainty, dividend distributions to investors were suspended but they are unlikely to resume for some time.
"We have a principal and interest facility rather than interest only loan. It's not an inability of the company to pay a distribution to investors - it's just that those distributions are being used to retire debt, which will increase equity in the company," Mr Hodge said.
Auckland's central business district office market has yet to recover from the Asian crisis, according to Mr Hodge. Since the KPMG Centre was bought in 1998 for $51 million it has declined in value to $42 million.
But there may be good news on the horizon for syndicate investors if the Auckland office market continues to improve on figures released this week by the Property Council. They reveal the five-year annualised returns from Auckland office buildings was 5.18% last year compared with Wellington's 6.3%.
The Property Council described the returns as "strong and reliable."
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