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REI bucks commercial property market trend

Birmingham-based Real Estate Investors plc (REI) is to buck the commercial property market trend and pay a fully-covered dividend of 0.75p for the latest quarter - in the same period last year the company paid 0.50p.

The Stock Exchange-listed real estate investment trust with a 1.6 million sq ft portfolio of commercial property across all sectors in the Midlands, pledged last year to continue with its progressive dividend policy.

In 2020, REI paid a total dividend for the year of 3p, making a total of £36.4 million paid out since the company commenced paying dividends. The business also carried out a share buyback costing £2 million during the year – at the same time maintaining its dividend policy.

REI chief executive Paul Bassi said: “We enter the second half of 2021 well positioned to take advantage of the regional economic bounce back and any market opportunities that will reveal themselves and benefit from renewed occupier demand, in particular for our convenience retail and our out of town offices.

“We are starting to see the economic boost from HS2, Coventry City of Culture 2021 and the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

“As the marketplace normalises, we anticipate a healthy recovery in valuations and sales at pre-COVID-19 levels with a strong investor demand for regional assets that performed well during the global pandemic, supported by high levels of equity and low costs of debt available for real estate.”

REI ended 2020 with £9.725 million of property sales which have unconditionally exchanged contracts and completion is expected in 2021. They included an Aldi store in Birmingham which the supermarket chain is acquiring for £5.35 million.

The company also announced that well-known Birmingham lawyer and businessman John Crabtree OBE retired as chairman at the end of May 2021, with William Wyatt, CEO of Caledonia Trust, assuming the role.