Dear fellow shareholder,
Promises are promises.
At the time of the merger between IMMOBEL and ALLFIN we promised our shareholders more recurrence, a solid, better and more profitable company with rising shareholder value and dividends. Our five-year plan was based on geographical and sectoral expansion, leading to growth and better risk diversification.
Today we can say that the merger was a resounding success. Our teams have devoted all their energy to raising our company to the highest level. We are no longer a Belgian player counting a few international branches - we have become a genuinely structured pan-European company blessed with a wealth of exceptional talents in all the countries in which we operate, and are both an international institution and a family business.
Urban requirements are changing at an ever-increasing pace. Ten years ago, the sector comprised four main activity categories: residential buildings, offices, commercial spaces and logistics. Today, there are around twenty. Residential usage can be classified by age, duration, and user groups who wish to return to close-knit communities and shared services. Hotels can now be classified by all possible segments, lengths of stay and budgets. Offices are becoming service providers and offer communal use of space both within and between companies. Commercial real estate is undergoing fundamental changes owing to the rise of online sales, while logistics increasingly function on the «last mile» model.
Well-run cities and regions understand the vital importance of giving all city dwellers an affordable place to live, close to work, school, cultural sites and shopping areas - a place close to the general experience that cities have to offer. Every individual, regardless of who they are, must feel good within their own environment, in a city that helps and encourages them, that does not pose an obstacle but rather stimulates efficiency, satisfaction and social mobility. The city of tomorrow is about no more or less than perpetuating and improving our current social model which, let’s face it, is under pressure.
Know-how and integrity
IMMOBEL possesses the knowledge and corporate culture necessary to take full responsibility in this domain. Our know- how - greatly appreciated in terms of urban renewal - and our integrity are valued assets. They have led to Allianz entrusting us with its existing headquarters and new address in Brussels, and to ING selling us its headquarters in the capital. It has also allowed us to receiving an invitation to take a major stake in the 240,000 m2 of the “Slachthuissite” (the former abattoir area) in Antwerp. Major international players are calling on us to join forces in major developments and structural partnerships. You will certainly be reading more about this in the course of the year or in a subsequent letter...
We are also committed to our social and societal responsibility. IMMOBEL dedicates up to 1 %* of its profits to good causes. We are also working on becoming a CO2-efficient company. We make every effort so that our projects may bring economic, social and wellbeing benefits to communities. They must be sustainable, and have the smallest ecological footprint possible. Honesty and transparency are core values for our company. As an employer, we attach the utmost importance to equal opportunities. These values form the core of who we are and will be pursued more intensely than ever throughout our subsidiaries.
A well thought out strategy
2018 kept its promises, and we closed the financial year with a net profit of EUR 56,8 million.
But beware! Extreme geopolitical forces throughout the world are damaging markets, the economic cycle is in a mature phase, and the first delays can be occasionally witnessed. The real estate development sector could be negatively affected by these potentially negative trends.
Our profession enjoys a well thought-out political and administrative strategy, though it suffers to the same extent from many obstacles when it comes to obtaining permits, as well as from an especially poor range of legal remedies. Pursuing our strategy and achieving success depend heavily on these factors.
2018 was an exceptional vintage. Barring completely unforeseen circumstances, we expect the next three years to be of the same calibre. We are working hard to keep you satisfied and proud of your company.
* On an average of 5 years
2018 has been a record-breaking year, and was marked by EBITDA of 75.1 MEUR, a net result of 56.8 MEUR, in excess of 500 MEUR of market capitalisation, more than 820,000 m2 of projects in development as well as our expansion towards a sixth country. We are very proud of these results, as they reflect the strategic decisions we have made and for which we have worked tirelessly over the past four years.
We are particularly proud to invest in new markets and activity sectors. A project of luxury leisure in Marbella as well as that of an iconic residential tower in Frankfurt confirm our acquisition strategy’s success throughout Europe.Alexander Hodac,
Chief Executive Officer
Energy and solidarity
The Group’s results illustrate the ever-stronger implication of the teams we have taken the time to recruit, train and motivate throughout our pan-European subsidiaries since my arrival in 2015. These teams now boast close to 200 talents, whose energy and enthusiasm now allow us to exceed our objectives. I thank them for the commitment they have displayed day after day.
Our job as a developer must more than ever represent a vehicle for the expression of solidarity. Humankind, the evolution of lifestyles and work life, as well as the implementation of a perennial organisational structure form not only the core of our strategy, but also of our daily concerns.
International expansion and local expertise
2018 allowed us to accelerate our international development. We have surrounded ourselves with efficient European partners with a view to install bases in each of the countries into which we have chosen to invest in order to create value. In France for example, we have already constituted a 5-strong dedicated team of professionals, experts in the market, and we are striving to progressively integrate the 80 talents of the Nafilyan & Partners Group into our organisation. Our commitment has not been any less in Belgium, where we have positioned ourselves, and have made our way back to the vibrant neighbourhoods of the European capital with mixed urban and office projects.
This expertise, combined with our in-house integrated management of the skills involved in the profession of developer - from acquisition to sales - allowed the Group to make some great acquisitions (over 150,000 m2 in 2018) which further confirmed the efficiency of this smart strategy. We are carrying out iconic and innovating projects in order to better adapt to the market’s requirements and evolution. This agility is coupled with a financial strategy of diversification as regards our funding sources. This ambitious approach allowed us to very successfully secure a 50 MEUR retail bond loan in two tranches (over 5 and 7 years) this past October.
All these results are testament to our commitment to further develop IMMOBEL’s property portfolio in Europe - in the interest of our shareholders, of the cities and of their inhabitants.