"It has been a changeable year."
These are the words of Henrik Kruse, Head of Business Development Denmark at Aberdeen Asset Management, when he looks back on the past year. 2016 held radical changes for the Danish department that former head Tonny Nielsen left in March to start the new company Fokus Asset Management.
He took a number of employees and about 25 percent of the real estate portfolio with him.
"Of course it had an impact on our business, saying goodbye to colleagues and friends is always turbulent. You have to restore balance again, and we have gotten there. You can tell because we have been actively buying and selling real estate for some of our clients while greeting new ones. So we are confident about the coming years," Kruse tells FWAM sister site EjendomsWatch.
The turbulent period is also visible in the recently presented accounts for the fiscal period 2015/2016, which the management describes as "not satisfactory, but as expected".
Turnover in Aberdeen Asset Management fell from a little over 4 percent to DKK 97 million (approx. EUR 13 million) compared to the newest accounts, while results post-tax fell 88 percent to just DKK 1.5 million.
"An operation was separated from our company, and of course that would impact our resluts. That is the essential point," Kruse says.
Aberdeen Asset management lost about 17 employees when Tonny Nielsen left, while 43 remain today.
"We have said goodbye to employees, and it's obvious that there's been some internal reorganizing and refocusing on other activities. It has created a different and more goal-oriented focus in the organization, and that's visible from this year's activities," says Kruse, who believes that the situation has been handled well.
"We have been efficient at selling real estate for some of our clients on an interesting level, we have made some purchases, and we have brought in new clients. That's a good start."
Over the course of the past year, Aberdeen has, among others, bought a central Copenhagen property for a three-digit million sum in DKK, a 7000 sqm. portion of the building project area in the Carlsberg City in Copenhagen, and most recently, in mid-February, Aberdeen announced its investment in a 23-floor high-rise residency building in Silkeborg.
It took time to heal
Kruse acknowledges that the events of the past year had an impact on the atmosphere in the company, and it took a few months for the organization to get over it.
"We have moved on properly, and everybody has landed on their feet and taken on big responsibility. The organization has healed, not that we were hit hard, but it had an impact. The business that we run now is evidence that we made it through and that our organization has been strengthened," he says, and adds:
"The atmosphere is completely different now. There's much more winning spirit, and that's a strong outcome after everything."
Kruse is looking forward to the year ahead.
"Our focus is providing satisfying service to our clients. There are still things that we're working on selling, and that's something that we focus a lot on. And then we have some things that we're looking into, such as new clients. There's a lot on stake at the moment, which is a good thing as we see it," says Kruse.
Wants to sell out
Under the Aberdeen umbrella is also Aberdeen SP 2013 A/S, which consists of the remains of the old Saxo Properties. In the same fiscal period of 2015/2016, this company's turnover fell by around 3 percent to DKK 28.6 million, while the annual result post-tax rose by just under 74 percent to DKK 3.6 million.
Aberdeen SP 2013 has total assets of DKK 17.2 million, and it seems likely that this figure will shrink in the future.
"Some of the company's managed properties are expected to be sold over the course of the next year, and to the extent needed, the structure of expenses in the company will be adjusted to the level of activity," management writes in the annual report.
English Edit: Marie Honoré