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May 12, 2020

RioCan CEO guarantees distribution amid COVID-19 turmoil

Businesses like Cineplex and GoodLife are 'perfect candidates' for bridge loans: RioCan CEO

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The chief executive officer of RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust has a message for investors: The company’s distributions are safe.

“Either the market has way overreacted on the downside, or there’s this feeling that the world is so awful that they’re all going to be cut,” RioCan CEO Ed Sonshine said about payouts to investors in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Tuesday.

“I can assure you that’s not the case for RioCan.”

Investors have punished the TSX’s real estate subgroup, sending it down 28 per cent so far this year, amid the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. RioCan’s units have plunged 43 per cent since the end of February; and, as of Tuesday, the company’s yield was sitting at 10.11 per cent.

The current yield is “probably the highest we’ve ever traded at in history, and our portfolio is the best it’s ever been in history,” Sonshine said.

His comments come one day after the federal government unveiled its latest relief measure – the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) – which will offer bridge loans to companies unable to secure traditional financing amid the pandemic.

While Sonshine noted that lockdowns will hit some of RioCan’s tenants – specifically Cineplex Inc. and Goodlife Fitness Centres Inc. - harder than others, the ability for businesses to thrive in a post-pandemic world will be determined by the strength of each firm’s underlying businesses models.

“I would think they’d be the perfect candidates because they need a bridge to get them through, where their basic business model starts working again.”