February 21, 2018 / 11:49 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Australia’s Charter Hall H1 profit slips as property market cools

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Feb 22 (Reuters) - Australian landlord Charter Hall Group on Thursday reported a 30 percent fall in net profit as growth in real estate prices in Sydney and Melbourne saw a slowdown, affecting its returns from property investments.

Net profit for the six months ended Dec. 31 was A$120.6 million ($94.09 million) compared to A$173.3 million a year ago. Operating earnings, an underlying measure that strips out one-off gains, rose 18 percent to A$95.1 million.

Charter Hall announced an interim dividend of 15.6 Australian cents per share, compared to 14.4 cents a year ago.

Charter Hall is the owner of office towers in tight commercial markets of downtown Melbourne and Sydney. But it is also exposed to the retail sector, where mall rents are softening as shopkeeper tenants lose business to online rivals.

At the same time, big property price rises in Sydney and Melbourne which have lifted the book value of Charter Hall’s portfolio have started to cool.

The company had A$21.9 billion worth of funds under management at Dec. 31, up 10 percent from six months ago.

$1 = 1.2817 Australian dollars Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates

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