REAL ESTATE – Dutch property investor VastNed Group is still seeking its shareholders’ support for a merger of its investment funds Retail and Offices-Industrial, it said.

"A combined fund is not only beneficiary to our listing, but will also help to spread the risks," VastNed’s general council Arnaud du Pont told IPE.

"It would allow us, for example, to reduce our exposure at the top of the office market and reinvest in retail as a base investment. This would generate a more stable cash flow to our shareholders."

However, because of the differing performance of both funds, the shareholders have not been enthusiastic for a merger so far. As a consequence, VastNed Group’s board has not yet received a mandate to prepare for a merger, he indicated.

The €1.05 VastNed Offices-Industrial fund dropped a couple of years ago out of the mid-cap market, the €1.7bn VastNed Retail followed recently.

VastNed Retail recently reported a rise of its investment results to €173m (€10.23 per share), of which €110m for indirect results. It expects a slightly better direct investment result in 2007, it said.

The proposed dividend per share is €2.60, after interim dividend of €1.10.

"Due to a continuingly attractive climate for property investment in general, and for retail in particular, a revaluation accounted for €128m," it explained.

VastNed Retail’s intrinsic value increased by 13.5% to €57.93 per share. Its net return however fell by 0.3% to 6.2%. The company’s occupancy rate went up 1.1% to 97.4%.

The company plans to invest €150m – both as standing investments and as pipeline projects - in 2007, it said. It intends to increase its stake in the Turkish market to 10% of its property portfolio. Recently, it acquired its first Turkish property: a €9.7m retail centre in Istanbul.

VastNed Retail invests in individual shops and retail centres and large-scale wholesale premises on key locations in the Netherlands, Spain, France and Belgium.

The VastNed Offices-Industrial fund reported a rise of its total investment results of 143.5% to €49.8m. Its net returns were 0.4% down, to 7.9%. A revaluation of its portfolio added €24.4, it said.

The occupancy rate of Offices-Industrial rose by 2.1% to 83.9%, a trend that is likely to continue, it indicated. Its proposed dividend per share is €1.20, after interim dividend of €0.50.

The company will focus on acquiring properties in the liquid offices markets, with an investment volume of €200m, it stated.

VastNed Offices-Retail invests in offices, company premises and logistical centres in the Netherlands and Belgium.