REAL ESTATE - The direct investment returns on real estate of Rodamco Europe have risen by 11.4% to €93.7m during the first quarter, it announced.

Its triple net asset value per share increased by 5.9% to €64.02. Rodamco’s indirect investment returns rose by 68.7% to €244.8m, it added.

“The good results are mainly due to Rodamco Europe’s focus on top quality retail in dominant locations in key European cities, as well as our active retail management,” chairman Maarten Hulshoff said.

The overall occupancy of Rodamco’s properties – mainly retail space – decreased by 0.2% to 97.7%. The occupancy in the retail sector dropped by the same percentage to 98.4%.

The company’s investment portfolio grew by 2.5%, or €200m, to €9.3bn.

According to Hulshoff, demand continued to be strong during the first quarter. “Although high quality opportunities are limited and expensive, we keep looking for investments opportunities within the retail sector in the whole of Europe,” he stated.

Despite the considerable improvement of the results, Rodamco sticks to its previous profits forecast of 7% for 2006, it said.

Rodamco Europe has a €2.4bn pipeline portfolio, of which 37% is committed. Its total portfolio tops the €11bn mark.

The Rotterdam-based company claims to be the largest publicly listed property investment and management company in the retail sector in Europe.