July 28 (Reuters) - Westfield shopping mall owner Unibail
said on Wednesday it expected the coronavirus pandemic
to continue weighing on results in the second half of the year
after reporting a 26% fall in net rental income in the first
half of the year.
The group's shopping mall centres were all reopened in April
and May following the gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions
but were closed for 67 days on average in the first half of the
"The development of new variants and the restrictions
contemplated to mitigate them generate additional uncertainty,"
the company said in a statement.
Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW), which also counts Forum des
Halles in Paris and Madrid's La Vaguada among its assets, said
it continued to focus on reducing its debt by selling part of
its assets, limiting investments and retaining profits.
The company, which suspended dividend payments for 2020,
2021 and 2022 and plans to zero its exposure to the U.S., said
it had completed 1.7 billion euros in disposals out of 4 billion
euros it targets by the end of 2022.
Net rental income in the first half of the year fell to 785
million euros ($926.85 million) from 1.07 billion euros a year
Rival Klepierre said on Tuesday it started seeing
signs of recovery in the second quarter but added it was unable
to estimate the potential impact of the pandemic for the rest of
the year due to the Delta variant of the virus.
($1 = 0.8470 euros)
(Reporting by Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdansk; editing by David
Evans and Chris Reese)