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Mar 30, 2020

Cominar slides as REIT pulls forecast, shelves asset sales due to virus

Cominar REIT

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Units of Cominar Real Estate Investment Trust were under pressure Monday after the REIT pulled its 2020 financial forecasts last week, citing the growing economic and operating impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. 

The Quebec City-based REIT, which has about 35.9 million square feet of office, industrial and retail properties in Ontario and Quebec, said the government-mandated shutdown of non-essential services will primarily have an impact on its retail portfolio.

Cominar president and chief executive officer Sylvain Cossette said in a statement the company would work with tenants who are facing forced closures with an offer of financial flexibility "on a case-by-case basis."

“We are acutely aware of the financial pressures on our tenant base, particularly on independent retailers, and we intend to work with our tenants on a case-by-case basis to support their businesses and find solutions in the short term while protecting the financial stability of the REIT,” he said.

The retail segment accounted for about 36 per cent of Cominar’s revenues in fiscal 2019. The company said it estimates about 32 per cent of its retail clients are considered "essential services".

Cominar also said it anticipates any asset sales to grind to a halt as real estate market activity stalls in the face of the virus. Bloomberg News reported last year the company had hired bankers to shop Montreal’s main railway hub, one of the REIT’s main holdings.

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