MNACT continues to slide as Festival Walk mall in Hong Kong remains closed after 'extensive damage'

Stanislaus Jude Chan

SINGAPORE (Nov 20): More than a week after violence from escalating unrest in Hong Kong spilled into Festival Walk shopping centre, the Kowloon Tong mall remains closed “until further notice”.

In a filing to SGX on Tuesday, the manager of Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT), which owns the Festival Walk property, updated that it is assisting and working closely with tenants as the mall is “not operational”.

The 7-storey Festival Walk mall has been described as an “anchor asset” for MNACT. In the latest 1HFY2020 ended September, Festival Walk accounted for 61.7% of MNACT’s net property income.

Troubles at Festival Walk had started on Nov 10, as skirmishes between Hong Kong protestors and police intensified. Several individuals were injured after altercations broke out at the mall, which had walked away relatively unscathed from the street protests before then.

Days later, more violence erupted at Festival Walk, as protestors on Nov 12 torched a Christmas tree in the mall and set fire to the office lobby. The protestors also smashed glass panels at the entrances to the property as well as balustrades on various levels of the mall.

“Due to the extensive damage incurred, recovery works including the cleaning up of debris and the assessment of repair works required, are on-going,” the REIT manager says in a statement on Nov 19.

Metal hoardings have also been erected at various parts of the property “for safety and security precautions”.

“The insurers have been notified, and the assessment of claims is underway,” the manager of MNACT adds.

MNACT’s share price continues to slide, as the troubles at its anchor asset in Hong Kong weigh heavily on investors.

In this month alone, units in MNACT have plunged 10.9% so far to close at $1.15 on Nov 19, from $1.29 on Nov 1.

The counter is also trading 22.3% lower than its recent peak of $1.48 in July.

Analysts, however, remain positive on MNACT.

DBS Group Research, OCBC Investment Research and HSBC Global Research are all keeping their “buy” recommendations on MNACT, with target prices of $1.60, $1.41 and $.145, respectively.