Immofinanz mulls exit from Buwog after listing

VIENNA, April 8 Tue Apr 9, 2013 2:30am EDT

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VIENNA, April 8 (Reuters) - Austrian real-estate company Immofinanz may completely exit its Buwog subsidiary after a planned listing of a majority of the residential property unit, it said late on Monday.

Immofinanz plans a listing of Buwog, its German and Austrian residential property unit, as early as this year. It plans initially to sell shares in just over half of Buwog for about 700 million to 750 million euros ($911-$976 million).

"That would be the first step for us, where we would give up the majority. Investors don't want a controlling shareholder," Chief Executive Eduard Zehetner told retail investors.

"Afterwards - although we're not under time pressure - we're thinking of a complete exit from Buwog."

Immofinanz is beefing up its residential portfolio in Germany in preparation for a Frankfurt listing of Buwog, which also includes Austrian housing stock.

To increase the liquidity and visibility of the other half of its business - which consists mainly of properties in central and eastern Europe, much of it shopping malls and offices - the Vienna-listed company plans a secondary listing in Warsaw.

Chief Financial Officer Birgit Noggler said that could happen as early as this month.

Zehetner reiterated the company was considering a special dividend after the Buwog listing, and said in any case it would continue to pay a dividend, which it might raise to 0.25 euros from 0.20 euros if the company grew strongly.

"A property company that pays no dividend is unthinkable," he said, adding a share buyback was also a possibility.

"A buyback is always a topic as long as our shares are so clearly under our net asset value. On the other hand, we also have to see what chances we have on the market to invest in new properties," he said.

($1 = 0.7682 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mark Potter)

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