GPT keeps eyes on Australand as profit surges
Property group GPT remains committed to pursuing its bid to snare a major part of rival Australand’s businesses.
GPT made a $3 billion takeover offer for two-thirds of rival Australand’s businesses last December, but was rebuffed.
Unveiling a surge in GPT’s full year profit on Thursday, chief executive Michael Cameron said an Australand offer was still in the works.
‘‘We are committed to advancing a proposal that’s going to be in the best interest of Australand and GPT security holders,’’ he said.
However, he added that the deal was not essential to GPT meeting its future targets.
‘‘We don’t have to do a deal to achieve our objectives going forward,’’ he said.
Australand’s managing director Bob Johnston last week downplayed the prospect of a successful takeover bid, either from GPT or rival Mirvac.
GPT more than doubled its full year net profit and believes further earnings growth is on the way, albeit at a slower pace. Its net profit for the year to December 31 rose to $594.5 million, from $246.2 in 2011, thanks to a rise in the value of its property portfolio.
Revenue rose to $587.4 million from $573.8 million, while earnings per share (EPS) rose 8 per cent.
GPT, which owns shopping centres, office properties and business parks across Australia, forecast earnings per share growth of at least five per cent this financial year.
The 2012 result was driven by a $221.3 million increase in the value of the group’s property assets, which offset a $40.4 million loss on derivatives.
Mr Cameron said GPT was cautiously optimistic about the operating environment for this financial year.
‘‘We will build our development capability and continue to see additional growth in the business from the wholesale funds and through selective asset acquisitions,’’ he said. ‘‘Finally, in the current low interest rate environment and given strong demand from institutional investors, we expect further signs of capitalisation rate improvement for prime assets.’’
GPT lifted its full year distribution to 19.3 cents per security, from 17.8 cents.
Shares in GPT were two cents higher at $3.82 in morning trade.