DNZ Property targets minimum 2.5% annual dividend growth

DNZ Property Fund chief executive Peter Alexander
DNZ Property Fund 12-month price history (NZX.com)

DNZ Property Fund [NZX: DNZ], the country's sixth-biggest listed property investor by market value, wants to lift its dividends by at least 2.5 percent a year after the board evaluated the current market and make-up of the firm's property portfolio.

The property investor expects to pay a dividend of 9.5 cents per share in the 2015 financial year, up from 9 cents a year earlier, and expects that return to lift every year, chairman Tim Storey told shareholders in Auckland. DNZ operates a dividend policy of paying between 95 percent and 100 percent of distributable profit, a practice Storey described as "prudent and good practice" to maintain the company's financial position.

"After a careful review, we are confident that DNZ can continue to deliver a positive dividend growth path," Storey said, according to speech notes published on the NZX. "That target takes into account current market conditions and outlook, portfolio review and expiry profile, completion of the Westgate project and planned divestment activity, and is based on the current distribution policy."

Shares of DNZ were unchanged at $1.735, giving the stock a dividend yield of 5.24 percent.

DNZ appointed Peter Alexander as chief executive this year, and tasked the former Auckland International Airport executive with restructuring the property company to boost returns.

Alexander told shareholders DNZ cut staff numbers by 15 percent, and anticipates savings of about $1 million a year, coming into full-effect from the 2016 financial year.

"In making the changes, we took particular care to ensure that the company is fully resourced to continue business as usual activity, as well as successfully deliver important initiatives such as the Westgate project," Alexander said.

Construction on DNZ's Westgate mall development began earlier this year, and Alexander said the firm will be strongly focused on having the site fully leased and open for business in October next year.

Work on DNZ's other major retail development, Johnsonville Mall, was deferred last year, and Alexander today said the company is reviewing the project due to changes in the economic and retail environments. DNZ expects to have some preliminary conclusions on the review by early next year, he said.

(BusinessDesk)

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