Property investment firm pays down debt from assets sales of £17.6m

Paul Bassi

Midlands-focused Real Estate Investors (REI) has used its disposals to pay down £11.9m worth of debt.

The average cost of the debt is 3.5% with 90% of the debt fixed, with the cash in the bank at the end of the year at £9.8m.

Private investor demand fueled sales of £17.55m of assets during 2021 for REI as it completed 15 disposals and has a further £2.3m in the pipeline in legals.

Despite operational difficulties, the firm also reported near-normal rent collection levels in 2021 of 97.81%. Occupancy levels are expected to rise to 86.73% in the future as pipeline lettings and disposals work through.

CEO Paul Bassi said: “Following a hiatus in office occupier decisions due to government ‘work from home’ advice, and the uncertainty around the Omicron variant, there is now a revival of interest in office space, particularly our out-of-town stock and we have a healthy pipeline of new lettings in our void space.

“We expect a sharp increase in market activity over the next few months as our region is showcased on the global stage in 2022 during the hosting of the highly anticipated Commonwealth Games.”

New tenants to REI’s portfolio include the former Premier Inn in West Bromwich as Vine Hotels signed up to a 15-year lease over six floors, turning the hotel into a Best Western.

Other additions include JD Sports Gyms, YMCA, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Comex 2000 and Bennetts Motorcycling Services.

Bassi added: “Demand for our neighbourhood and convenience assets remains very strong. We are also experiencing high demand for roadside/fast food and drive-thru locations, and, in response, we have identified suitable unoccupied sites/redundant land and are negotiating competitive terms to strong covenants in this space.”

REI has paid dividends of 2.25p per share in respect of 2021, with a final dividend to be announced in March, making a minimum annual payment of 3p.

The company has also announced that it will release its final results for the year ended 31 December 2021 on 22 March 2022