As a year unlike any other draws to a close, the most important message I wanted to give you, our readers and investors is simply ‘thank you’. We sincerely appreciate your business. We hope you are happy with how your investments with us are performing and are positioned heading into 2021.
I suspect I’m not alone in my first thought being that I’m very happy to see the back of 2020. At the same time and not wishing to speak for many of you who have had a particularly tough year, I’m sure wiser heads would remind us how lucky we actually are here. Despite some underwhelming failures, overall Australia is in an excellent position as far as the pandemic response is concerned and our extraordinary way of life has largely survived the year intact. In fact, a lot of our communities are closer and stronger for having met the challenges of the year together.
While it would be easy to dwell on the low points of the year, and you could certainly say the adversity we have encountered has brought out the worst, it has also undoubtedly brought out the best. We have seen some outstanding efforts this year from those fighting bushfires, emergency and frontline healthcare workers knowingly in harm’s way responding to COVID-19, teachers who’ve had to go above and beyond to keep our kids on track and a whole host of other ‘ordinary’ Australians who have gone out of their way to look after a neighbour or someone in need of a hand. They’ve done their job and more and have set an excellent example for the rest of the country. I think the overall level of community response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of magnificent – the news won’t necessarily reflect this but the facts speak for themselves.
We have had a very significant responsibility bestowed on us as custodian for nearly $3 billion of savings. I am exceptionally proud of all of our team at APN – they have continued to carry on in unprecedented lockdown conditions (even more stringent than those in place during World War 2 for Melbourne!). They have done their job to look after the capital entrusted to us with great diligence and professionalism. With these efforts and exceptional teamwork we have navigated 2020’s challenges successfully (including over 99% of rental income collected) and find ourselves and our investors again in a strong position moving in to the new year. I’m also proud of our ongoing support and donations made to the Property Industry Foundation in its mission to solve the problem of youth homelessness in Australia through bringing the property industry together to build homes for disadvantaged young people.
In wrapping up our year, in addition to acquiring approximately $200 million of new commercial property investments for our listed funds in the past few weeks, we also launched a new income focused global property fund the APN Global REIT Income Fund earlier this year. It has been a big year in many respects but I’m really pleased we were able to continue our momentum through the year. As part of this, APN has made a $10 million cornerstone commitment to the new global fund as part of its launch, which will own a diversified portfolio of commercial property investments listed on the world’s major stock exchanges.
No doubt 2021’s challenges and opportunities will be different from 2020’s. However, as fundamental investors, we are optimistic given the dislocation in parts of the market and what we currently hold. And while the market is always changing, we haven’t changed our focus on ‘property for income’ which remains as relevant for investors in today’s super low interest rate environment as it was in 1996 when APN was first started.
On behalf of all of us at APN we wish you a happy and safe holiday and the best of luck investing in the year ahead. We look forward to talking with you in 2021.