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DES - Online Annual Report 2009


Individual risks

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My Annual Report

Presentation of material individual risks

Cyclical and macroeconomic risks

The Federal Republic of Germany experienced its severest recession since the Second World War in the year under review. According to initial calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, economic output contracted by 5% in real terms. Almost every sector of the economy was affected by the downturn in equal measure. Foreign trade slumped heavily due to a significant fall in foreign demand. The only positive stimuli in 2009 came from consumer spending, which rose by 0.4% year-on-year after adjustment for prices. Thanks to government support measures, employment remained at the same level as in the previous year. For the current year, the German government is expecting growth of 1.4%.

Almost every major industrialised nation ended 2009 with reduced economic output. According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, the global economy contracted by 1.1% in the year under review. Attention focused primarily on the USA, where around 7.2 million jobs have been lost since the middle of 2008. The total collapse of the financial system was only prevented by substantial government programmes to boost the economy and the low interest rate policy of the US Federal Reserve.

The reorganisation and reform of the international financial system continue to be the focal point of the shake-out. The efforts of the monetary, fiscal and supervisory policymakers have been geared in this direction for almost two years now. Public funds have been used on a vast scale for economic packages and bailouts in the financial sector. The resulting levels of national debt in the western industrialised countries are worrying, and massive systemic risks continue to exist within the economic and financial markets.

Despite continuing signs of recovery, the structural risks in the financial system have not been eliminated. As things stand, it seems questionable whether there will be any self-sustaining growth momentum once the government support measures come to an end. The high levels of debt in the western industrialised countries may lead to fresh tensions, particularly if the monetary watchdogs abandon their restrictive attitude in respect of monetary policy.

Deutsche EuroShop AG is not as strongly affected by economic developments as other sectors are in terms of its business model – long-term, inflation-proofed letting of retail space – and the associated risks. Past experience has demonstrated that by locating our shopping centers in prime locations and by ensuring broad sector diversification within the centers, we can achieve commercial success even during periods of stagnation.

Market and sector risks

Structural changes have taken place in the retail sector in recent years and these must therefore also be included in a differentiated approach to risk management issues. Deutsche EuroShop’s business model enables it to benefit from a general shift of market share away from traditional specialist retailers in favour of larger retail parks and well-managed shopping centers.

This development is more of an opportunity for us right now, as a decline in consumer behaviour in macroeconomic terms would not necessarily have a negative impact on retailers’ revenue in our shopping centers. The circumstances described are leading to a divergence of the various retail segments in terms of their success.

Retail revenue fell by 2.4% in nominal terms in 2009, compared with an increase of 2.1% in the previous year. We anticipate that retail revenue will stagnate in 2010.

We minimise market and sector risks through in-depth market intelligence and by concluding long-term contracts with tenants of all retail segments that have strong credit ratings.

Risk of rent loss

It is possible that tenants may be unable to meet their obligations under existing leases or that the previous rents may no longer be obtained in the case of new and follow-on rentals. As a result, income would turn out to be less than budgeted, and distributions to shareholders might have to be reduced. If the rental income for a property company is no longer sufficient to meet its interest and repayment obligations, this could lead to the loss of the entire property. Tenants’ revenue trends and the accounts receivable trends are regularly analysed in this respect, and measures to find new tenants are initiated at an early stage if there are signs of any negative developments.

The tenants furnish corresponding security deposits against the risk of default. In addition, write-downs are recognised in the accounts in individual cases.

Cost risk

Expenditure on current maintenance or investment projects can turn out higher than budgeted on the basis of experience. We minimise risks from cost overruns in current investment projects by costing in all identifiable risks in the planning stage as a precautionary measure. In addition, construction contracts are only awarded on a fixed-price basis to general contractors with strong credit ratings. During the building phase, professional project management is assured by the companies we commission. However, it is impossible in principle to completely avoid cost overruns in ongoing construction projects in individual cases.

Valuation risk

The value of a property is essentially determined by its capitalised earnings value, which in turn depends on factors such as the level of annual rental income, the underlying location risk, the evolution of long-term capital market rates and the general condition of the property. A reduction in rental income or a deterioration of the location risk necessarily involves a lower capitalised earnings value. The appreciation of the properties is therefore also significantly influenced by a variety of macroeconomic or regional factors as well as developments specific to the property that can neither be foreseen nor influenced by the Company. The factors described are taken into account in the annual market valuations of our portfolio properties by independent appraisers. Changes in value are recognised in the income statement of the consolidated financial statements in accordance with the requirements of IAS 40 and may thus increase the volatility of the consolidated profit. However, this generally has no effect on the Group’s solvency.

Currency risk

Deutsche EuroShop AG’s activities are limited exclusively to the European economic area. Manageable currency risks arise in the case of the Eastern European investees. These risks are not hedged because this is purely an issue of translation at the reporting date and is therefore not associated with any cash flow risks. The currency risk from operations is largely hedged by linking rents and loan liabilities to the euro. A risk could arise if the Hungarian forint or the Polish zloty were to plummet against the euro such that tenants were no longer able to pay what would then be considerably higher rents denominated in foreign currency.

Financing and interest rate risks

We minimise the interest rate risk for new property financing as far as possible by entering into long-term loans with fixed-interest periods of up to 20 years. It cannot be ruled out that refinancing is only possible at higher interest rates than before. The interest rate level is materially determined by the underlying macroeconomic conditions and therefore cannot be predicted by us.

The possibility cannot be completely excluded that, owing for example to a deterioration in the Company’s results of operations, banks may not be prepared to provide refinancing or to extend credit lines. We monitor the interest rate environment closely so as to be able to react appropriately to interest rate changes with alternative financing concepts or hedging if necessary. At an average interest rate of 5.27%, this does not currently represent a significant risk within the Group, particularly as the most recent refinancing was concluded at lower interest rates than the original financing and the present average interest rate.

Deutsche EuroShop AG uses derivatives that qualify for hedge accounting to hedge interest rate risks. An interest rate swap is an effective hedge if the principal amounts, maturities, repricing or repayment dates, dates for interest payments and principal repayments, and basis of calculation used to determine the interest rates for the hedge are identical to those of the underlying transaction and the party to the contract fulfils the contract. Consequently, the ongoing changes in the value of these items in the consolidated financial statements are recognised directly in equity. A test of effectiveness for the hedges described is implemented regularly.

Risk of damage

The property companies bear the risk of total or partial destruction of the properties. The insurance payouts due in such a case might be insufficient to compensate fully for the damage. It is conceivable that sufficient insurance cover for all theoretically possible losses does not exist or that the insurers may refuse to provide compensation.

IT risk

Deutsche EuroShop’s information system is based on a centrally managed network solution. Corrective and preventive maintenance of the system is carried out by an external service provider. A virus protection concept and permanent monitoring of data traffic with respect to hidden and dangerous content are designed to protect against external attacks. All data relevant to operations is backed up on a daily basis. In the event of a hardware or software failure in our system, all data can be reproduced at short notice.

Personnel risk

Given the small number of employees of Deutsche EuroShop AG, the Company is dependent on individual persons in key positions. The loss of these key staff would lead to a loss of expertise, and the recruitment and induction of new replacement personnel could temporarily impair ongoing day-to-day business.

Legal risk

The concept for our business model is based on the current legal situation, administrative opinion and court decisions, all of which may, however, change at any time.

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