Since 16 October 2014, WDP has acquired the status of a public Regulated Real Estate Company (openbare Gereglementeerde VastgoedVennootschap – GVV/SIR).
The GVV/SIR status or, referring to the English language generic notion “Real Estate Investment Trust”, the BE-REIT status, is available for operating real estate companies that specialise in providing real estate properties to users, and meet the statutory requirements of the GVV/SIR.
Within the statutory limits, the GVV can possess other types of “real estate” (shares in openbare vastgoedbevaks/Sicafis (public real estate investment trusts), participation rights in specific foreign ICBs (collective investment schemes), shares issued by other REITs and real estate certificates), and perform all the activities associated with the founding, reconstruction, renovation, development (for own portfolio), acquisition, disposal, management and operation of real estate properties. A GVV/SIR aims for general commercial goals in the long term and acts, just like any other operating and commercial company, in the interests of the company and, in extension, of all its stakeholders.
The following characteristics are specific for the public GVV/SIR status:
- Compulsory trading of the shares on a Belgian regulated market (Euronext Brussels);
- Statutory fixed maximum gearing ratio of 65% of its assets;
- Obligation to pay out at least 80% of its result;
- Strict rules regarding conflicts of interest;
- Occasional and regular valuation of the fair value of the real estate by an independent property expert;
- Diversification of its real estate in such a manner that the risks are spread in an appropriate way, for each type of real estate, for each geographical area, and for each category of user or tenant;
- A transaction must not result in more than 20% of its consolidated assets constituting one single real estate complex;
- Specific rules regarding internal control structures.
As a public Regulated Real Estate Company (openbare GVV/SIR), WDP is under the prudential supervision of the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA).GVV/SIR is subject to corporate income tax at the normal rate, albeit only on a limited tax base, specifically on the non-deductible professional expenses, non-standard or gratuitous benefits it has received, and the special assessment on secret commission fees. When a GVV/SIR participates in a merger, a demerger or a similar transaction, this transaction cannot benefit from the regime of tax neutrality, but this will lead to the application of the exit tax at the rate of 15%. The dividends paid out to a shareholder by a GVV/SIR usually lead to the collection of the withholding tax at the rate of 30%.
CHANGE OF STATUS TO A PUBLIC REGULATED PROPERTY COMPANY (COMPLETED)
On 26 August 2014, the FSMA (Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority) granted WDP a licence as a public Regulated Real Estate Company (openbare Gereglementeerde VastgoedVennootschap - openbare GVV/SIR) under certain conditions precedent pursuant to the Law of 12 May 2014 governing the Regulated Real Estate Companies (the GVV/SIR Law).
The Extraordinary General Meeting of shareholders of WDP held on 16 October 2014, unanimously approved the object change with a view to the change of status from Property Investment Trust to public Regulated Real Estate Company according to the GVV/SIR Law.
Since no exit right was exercised and all conditions precedent to which the change of the articles of association by the EGM and the licence (granted by the FSMA) were subjected, are thus fulfilled, WDP benefits of the status of public GVV/SIR with effect from 16 October 2014.