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Vornado Realty Trust VNO boosted its financial position by refinancing a $120-million loan for 4 Union Square South. The interest-only loan carries an interest rate of LIBOR plus 1.4% and is slated to mature in 2025, after considering any further extension.
It will replace a previous LIBOR plus 2.15% loan of $113 million, which was slated to mature in 2019. Notably, the refinancing is done for the 206,000-square-foot retail property located in Manhattan.
This refinancing offers Vornado a cheaper line of credit and helps reduce annualized interest expense. Moreover, extended maturities of the assumed debt will help the company improve its maturity profile and enjoy greater liquidity for day-to-day operations. The move will also boost the company’s cash flow and alleviate its bottom-line pressure. The reduction offers greater financial flexibility and will strengthen Vornado’s balance sheet.
Notably, the company exited the second quarter with lower liquidity of nearly $1.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents, as compared to $1.8 billion recorded at prior-year end.
Vornado had earlier transformed the property from a departmental store into a multi-tenant retail center. 4 Union Square houses tenants such as Forever 21, Burlington Coat Factory, DSW Shoes and Whole Foods.
The company’s strategy to attract and retain tenants at favorable rents through extensive redevelopment programs looks encouraging amid the prevailing lackluster retail environment in the United States. Importantly, the predominance of e-retailers over brick-and-mortar sales has emerged as a pressing concern for retail REITs like Kimco Realty Corporation KIM, Macerich Company MAC and Taubman Centers TCO. In fact, a number of retail landlords have been affected due to online channels increasingly gaining popularity. This has also resulted in widespread store closures and bankruptcy filing by retailers.
Over the past six months, shares of the company have underperformed the industry it belongs to. In fact, its shares have gained 7.9% compared with the industry’s rally of 8.2% during the same time frame.
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