Unibail Rodamco sees limited COVID-19 impact in first quarter, outbreak to hit as of second quarter

(Reuters) - Europe's largest property firm Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield URW.AS said on Wednesday it saw limited effect from the coronavirus pandemic on its first-quarter revenue, but warned its impact will be reflected in the second quarter.

“COVID-19 had only a limited effect on the Group’s Q1 turnover as rents are billed and paid quarterly in advance in most of Europe and monthly in the US,” Unibail said in a statement.

It added it is too early to reliably estimate the pandemic’s impact on the group’s results for 2020.

The company, which counts leading European malls like Paris’ Forum des Halles and Madrid’s La Vaguada among its assets, noted the COVID-19 outbreak primarily affected its convention & exhibition business in France and retail activity in parts of Europe.

It also said German shopping centres are progressively reopening, and added a number of governments in the regions where it operates have taken steps to gradually lift the restrictions imposed.

Unibail’s first-quarter proportionate turnover came in at 956.6 million euros ($1.04 billion), up 1.8% year-on-year, mainly due to property development and project management revenues.

Peer Klepierre LOIM.PA also said on Wednesday it had started to reopen some shopping malls in Germany and was preparing to do so elsewhere as lockdowns ease across Europe.

($1 = 0.9194 euros)

Reporting by Charles Regnier; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama