IN FOCUS : A clear ambition for 2024
NSI is ready for the next phase. In early 2017 NSI re-set its strategy and purpose, by aiming to become the leading specialist in the Dutch office market, with a strong and efficient platform and an emphasis on total return through active asset management, value-add initiatives and active capital recycling.
It is now time for an updated strategy and purpose, one that puts the customer front and centre. “We enable our customers to achieve maximum productivity and growth, providing best-in-class, flexible, space solutions and an unparalleled level of services in modern, healthy, sustainable buildings in prime locations.”
This is clearly an ambition, one that will guide us in our activities for the coming years. Going into 2020 we are having multiple sessions with the wider NSI team to fine-tune the strategy and purpose and to set priorities, timelines and deliverables with respect to three key elements: portfolio optimisation, development and services.
The portfolio optimisation for the coming years will focus on further strengthening our exposure and our positioning at or near the major transport hubs in our focus cities. We expect these hubs will turn into locations where ‘work, education, healthcare, sleep, eat and play’ are being offered on an integrated basis to create new, more vibrant, city districts. We embrace this trend and recognise both the necessity and its potential. Where appropriate and where possible we will take an active role in contributing to this future.
An attractive €850m development pipeline
Over the past two years or so we have managed to put together a considerable development pipeline. The current potential pipeline has an all-up cost of circa €850m, of which circa €150m is the combined book value of existing assets related to this pipeline and €700m is the capex to be spend in the years ahead.
This pipeline is a valuable asset at a time when prime investment yields have fallen to record lows. We estimate an average yield on cost for our development programme of 6% to 6.5%. Development, selectively, is therefore one of the better ways to drive further shareholder value, even on a risk-adjusted basis.
We recognise that we are at the start of building up a track record. In general we prefer to minimise risks related to development where possible, but this is especially relevant for the first project. We have prepared the balance sheet with a low LTV and with fixed rate debt that extends in duration beyond the expected delivery time table for our projects. This, in combination with having the right organisation and processes, prime locations, sensible pre-letting requirements and reputable partners will help mitigate many of the development risks.
We have two near-term projects, Laanderpoort and Vitrum, both in Amsterdam. Given the current LTV of 27.4% the balance sheet has capacity to pursue both projects. On a pro-forma basis, taking into account circa €150m in potential capex for both projects, the LTV will increase to a still modest 34%, before any potential valuation gains on either project.
Laanderpoort, Amsterdam (circa €120m in capex)
We have signed a preliminary cooperation and lease agreement with ING for the redevelopment of Laanderpoort. The 35,000 sqm project will see circa 31,000 sqm leased to ING, with the remainder to become a version of our in-house flex office brand HNK.
Demolition of the existing structure is foreseen for Q1 2022, with start of the new development shortly thereafter. The necessary approvals from the municipality of Amsterdam will still have to be obtained. The delivery date is foreseen in Q3 2024.
The lease and development agreement with ING is structured such that the rent ultimately to be paid by ING is a function of building costs, with caps and floors. We have agreed a yield of circa 6%, which based on today’s capex and all-up cost projections equates to a rent level that is in line with market rents for the area.
The capex for the project is circa €120m and in combination with the current book value of circa €40m and the development margin we expect this asset to be NSI’s largest asset on completion.
Vitrum, Amsterdam (circa €30m in capex)
We are currently working out detailed plans for this 11,600 sqm asset adjacent to the main South-Axis market. The existing tenant is set to vacate this building end H1 2021. A major refurbishment is foreseen, with total capex of circa €30m. Works are expected to take 12 to 18 months.
The asset is a circa 5 mins walk from the Amsterdam Zuid train station. With prime office rents at €500 psm for the prime South-Axis market, we expect to achieve a substantial uplift on completion compared to the in-place rent of just €275 psm today.
Ongoing minor projects (circa €11m in capex)
At Bentinck Huis in The Hague building works are progressing on schedule, with delivery for this redevelopment project foreseen for early Q2. We are spending circa €8m to upgrade this asset to one of the best, most sustainable, assets in The Hague.
At Donauweg in Amsterdam we are spending circa €3.5m to upgrade a 4,600 sqm office/industrial asset. This area, adjacent to the upcoming Amsterdam Sloterdijk area, is improving and attracting a wide range of businesses. Completion is foreseen H2 2020.
In addition to the two main projects of Laanderpoort and Vitrum we are working on numerous other potential projects. We have so far publicly commented on potential re-developments at Centerpoint and Motion, whilst plans for additional projects are evolving. Some of these potential projects are far away, whilst others are possibly more near to medium term.
The medium term pipeline includes several mixed-use development projects. Centerpoint is a case in point. We fully embrace the trend towards more mixed-use development, as we recognise both the necessity from a city/district planning point of view as well as the long term operational/value-creation potential.
The start dates for the medium-term projects remain unclear and to a large extend will depend on zoning, planning, pre-lets and appropriate levels of de-risking of the more near-term projects, as well as the available balance sheet capacity.
We are working on plans to redevelop our existing 15,000 sqm of offices in a central location in the Zuid-Oost district of Amsterdam. At this stage we are investigating the viability of demolishing the existing buildings and working on plans to deliver 60,000 - 90,000 sqm of mixed-use space.
We are working on plans to add up to 10,000-25,000 sqm of new office or mixed-use space on the parking lot adjacent to our existing Motion asset in Amsterdam Sloterdijk. At this stage we are working with advisors on the potential viability of a scheme and are in early discussions on zoning plans with the municipality.
We have made good progress at HNK in recent years in terms of operating performance. Yet, in terms of concept and in number of openings of new HNK’s, we recognise there is more work to do.
In 2020 we are stepping up our efforts and will review our concept, product and services. This review will not be limited to HNK and will include the entirety of the NSI portfolio. We fully recognise that customer behaviour and demands are structurally shifting, with flexibility, hospitality, services, amenities and unburdening (Dutch: ontzorgen) increasingly becoming key considerations.
‘Corporates do not want an office, they want a productive workforce’. As our asset base is shifting to better locations, we notice that for more of our customers the focus on productivity is becoming less about costs and more about using space differently, by providing the right mix of quiet space, meeting space, project space and social space, so that their businesses can thrive.
We recognise this trend we see it as our role to help our customers, many of which do not have the in-house know-how, time, people or interest to organise space effectively. If we get this right we are likely to be rewarded for it, be it in the form of higher rent levels or a structurally higher level of occupancy.
It is our aim to offer mid-size to larger corporates a rather seamless product with a menu card of potential services. Where necessary and appropriate we will team up with local specialist partners to help provide this offering. We expect all of this will be possible within the existing FBI legislation.
We expect that our review will confirm that not all assets currently owned by NSI or HNK can accommodate the service offering that we believe will be necessary going forward. This will be an input to our portfolio strategy and asset rotation plans for the coming years.
We see ESG as integral to our business and our annual report will include an elaborate section on our initiatives and results.
We are increasingly experimenting with sensors to analyse building usage and monitor energy efficiency, we are placing screens and are introducing portals to engage with our customers on circularity, sustainability, energy usage and building use. We expect to further extend our data collection and to use the data more often to advise our customers.
Mr. Stahli was named CEO of NSI N.V on September 1, 2016 for a period of six years. Bernd (45) has more than 20 years of experience in the capital- and investment markets in the real estate sector. He has held various positions at (international) financial institutions, most recently at Kempen & Co investment bank where he has been Managing Director of Securities - European Real Estate since 2013.
Previously, Mr. Stahli worked as a "Head of European Property Securities Research" at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London. Because of this background, Mr. Stahli combines in-depth knowledge of all relevant aspects of international (listed) real estate with a broad network in the capital market.