* Nine-month net profit rises 7.1 pct to 225.8 mln eur
* Sustainable cash flow (FFO) down 31 pct to 171.8 mln
* Completes five-year sales programme ahead of plan
(Adds quotes and details from statement)
VIENNA, March 19 Austrian property group
Immofinanz said the jury was out on the potential
impact of Ukraine's political crisis on its business in Russia,
which will be its biggest market once it completes a spin-off of
its BUWOG residential unit.
"The extent of a potential effect on the commercial
development of our target markets, above all Russia, cannot be
estimated at the present time," it said on Wednesday while
announcing net profit in the first three quarters of its fiscal
year rose 7.1 percent to 225.8 million euros ($314 million).
"Although the weak rouble has a short-term positive effect
on results through the valuation of our properties, it
represents a negative factor for the development of our business
in Russia over the medium- and long-term."
Russia will account for a quarter of Immofinanz's portfolio
- up from 18 percent now - once the BUWOG spin-off goes through
late next month. BUWOG is focused on Austria and Germany so the
move will sharpen its focus on commercial property in central
and eastern Europe.
The group had 9.2 billion euros worth of investment property
plus 570 million in property under construction at end-January.
Rental income on its Russian retail portfolio is in
principle linked to the euro or dollar, so fluctuations in the
rouble exchange rate have no direct influence on results from
asset management, it said.
"However, as the owner of shopping centres, we are dependent
on the economic success of our tenants. A continuing decline in
the value of the rouble could lead to pressure on some of these
tenants," Chief Executive Eduard Zehetner said.
It noted the company has handled exchange rate swings
without material damage, for instance via special short-term
arrangements with some tenants during the 2008/09 financial
crisis. "That is also a possible scenario in the current
situation," it said.
"We do not believe that the so-called 'sanctions'
implemented by various parties to date are capable of negatively
influencing the Russian economy or the flow of goods and
capital," Zehetner said.
"Our Russian properties are financed in U.S. dollars and
solely through Russian banks (Sberbank of Russia) or the Russian
subsidiaries of international banks (e.g. Rosbank, Nordea)," it
said. These loans have long maturities and use the properties as
"Sufficient long-term financing is also available for our
newly developed properties, such as the recently completed
GOODZONE shopping centre," finance chief Birgit Noggler said.
Nine-month results from operations declined slightly due to
numerous property sales and the delayed completion of the
GOODZONE shopping centre in Moscow, it said.
($1 = 0.7189 Euros)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Anthony Barker)