UPDATE 1-Immofinanz says can't gauge Russia crisis impact

Fri Aug 1, 2014 1:05pm EDT

Related Topics

* 2013/14 net profit up 63 pct to 180.4 mln euros

* Says can't yet gauge impact of Russia-Ukraine crisis

* Targets 2014/15 dividend payout of 0.15-0.20 eur/share (Adds quotes and background)

VIENNA, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Austrian real estate firm Immofinanz forecast its core markets would develop positively this fiscal year as economies improve but said question marks remained over its key Russian market given the political stand-off with the West over Ukraine.

"The effects of this crisis on the commercial development of Immofinanz group's target markets, above all Russia, cannot be estimated at the present time," it said on Friday, adding 2013/14 net profit rose 63 percent to 180.4 million euros ($242 million).

Chief Executive Eduard Zehetner said Russia could prosper as well, assuming the crisis did not escalate "and long-term negative effects on the purchasing power of the population can be avoided".

Immofinanz now depends on its five Russian shopping centres in the Moscow region for about a third of its rental income following the spin-off of Buwog, its German and Austrian residential property unit, at the end of April.

"The rental income from the Russian portfolio is generally coupled to the euro or U.S. dollar, but an ongoing decline in the ruble would have a negative effect on tenants' cost structures," it said in a statement.

"As indicated in the report on the first three quarters of 2013/14, short-term arrangements were concluded with a number of tenants in the Moscow shopping centres to reduce the currency-related pressure. This also proved to be a sustainable procedure during the 2008/09 financial crisis," it said.

Immofinanz proposed no dividend for the fiscal year that ended in April, as flagged during the Buwog spin-off.

"The dividend payment should be resumed starting with the current financial year. From the present point of view, a distribution of 0.15 to 0.20 euro per share is targeted for 2014/15, whereby a combination of dividend and share buyback programme is possible," it said.

The hit from revaluations adjusted for foreign exchange effects widened to 178 million euros from 31 million, above all due to its Russian property portfolio. "These results reflect the political unrest in Ukraine and the previously imposed as well as potential sanctions against Russia," it said.

Zehetner, who had long said he would retire after completing the separation of Buwog from the rest of the company, is handing over to Oliver Schumy, an eastern Europe expert from cardboard box maker Mayr-Melnhof, next May.

Immofinanz shares have fallen 13 percent this year to date, compared with an 11 percent increase in the European real-estate index, partly due to the Buwog spin-off but mainly because of concerns about its Russian exposure.

The shares trade at 12 times forward earnings, below Austrian peers Conwert and CA Immo, which trade at 26 and 22 times forward earnings respectively, according to Thomson Reuters data.

($1 = 0.7442 Euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Evans and Mark Potter)

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