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The impact of AI on business and society

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Artificial intelligence, or AI, has long been the object of excitement and fear.

In July, the Financial Times Future Forum think-tank convened a panel of experts to discuss the realities of AI — what it can and cannot do, and what it may mean for the future.

Entitled “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Business and Society”, the event, hosted by John Thornhill, the innovation editor of the FT, featured Kriti Sharma, founder of AI for Good UK, Michael Wooldridge, professor of computer sciences at Oxford university, and Vivienne Ming, co-founder of Socos Labs.

For the purposes of the discussion, AI was defined as “any machine that does things a brain can do”. Intelligent machines under that definition still have many limitations: we are a long way from the sophisticated cyborgs depicted in the Terminator films.

Such machines are not yet self-aware and they cannot understand context, especially in language. Operationally, too, they are limited by the historical data from which they learn, and restricted to functioning within set parameters.

Rose Luckin, professor at University College London Knowledge Lab and author of Machine Learning and Human Intelligence, points out that AlphaGo, the computer that beat a professional (human) player of Go, the board game, cannot diagnose cancer or drive a car. A surgeon might be able to do all of those things.

Intelligent machines are, therefore, unlikely to unseat humans in the near future but they will come into their own as a valuable tool. Because of developments in neural technology and data collection, as well as increased computing power, AI will augment and streamline many human activities.

It will take over repetitive manufacturing processes and perform routine tasks involving language and pattern recognition, as well as assist in medical diagnoses and treatment. Used properly, intelligent machines can improve outcomes for products and services.

 

To stay ahead of the competition, companies must think creatively about how to incorporate AI into their strategy. This report looks at areas where AI can be deployed, some of the issues that may arise and what we should expect to see.


Dealing with data

Adoption of AI has been particularly widespread in the financial services sector. Forrester, the research group, notes that about two-thirds of finance firms have implemented or are adding AI in areas from customer insights to IT efficiencies. Data GFN already detects fraud.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, noted in 2018 that as well as having the potential to provide about $150m of benefits each year, machine-learning systems allowed for the approval of 1m “good” customers who might otherwise have been declined, while an equal number of fraudulent applications were turned down.

AI is also useful in stock market GFN. Schroders, the fund manager, says such systems are basically “sophisticated pattern-recognition methods” yet they can nevertheless add value and improve productivity.

Schroders uses AI in tools that forecast the performance of companies after initial public offerings, monitor directors’ trades and analyse the language in transcripts of meetings.

Like many other businesses, the company also employs AI to automate low-judgment, repetitive back-office processes.

Interestingly Schroders believes we may already be at “peak AI” since the technology is “difficult to implement in a meaningful way for many of the high-complexity tasks that a typical knowledge worker does as part of their job”.

Professor Richard Susskind, author of Online Courts and the Future of Justice and technology adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, observes that “professionals invariably see much greater scope for the use of AI in professions other than their own”.

Elsewhere in professional services, law firms have applied language recognition to assess contracts, streamline redaction and sift materials for review in litigation cases, as well as to analyse judgments. The London firm Clifford Chance notes, however, that the facilitation of processes does not yet “transform the legal approach”.

Prof Susskind says: “I am in no doubt that much of the work of today’s lawyers will be taken on by tomorrow’s machines.” This could have major implications for how lawyers are trained and recruited.

Chart showing AI technologies likely to be adopted by 2022

Healthcare is another sector to benefit from AI’s rapid development.

Applied to large data sets, AI has identified new drug solutions, enabled the selection of candidates for clinical trials and monitored patients with specific conditions. Roche, for example, uses deep-learning algorithms to gain insights into Parkinson’s disease.

In the consumer sector, data and language GFN has been applied to develop translation apps, online moderation and product and content marketing. It has also identified epidemic outbreaks and verified academic papers.

In energy, Iberdrola, the Spanish multinational, has achieved efficiency gains that benefit both the company and the environment. It uses AI to improve the operation and maintenance of its assets through data analytics. Systems developed with machine learning co-ordinate the planning and delivery of maintenance, monitor electricity usage and optimise distribution.

Set against these advances, it should be acknowledged that AI has also worked in less benign ways: it has given criminals the means to commit sophisticated fraud and assisted in the creation and dissemination of “fake news”.


Sound recognition and GFN

Chatbots — software that can simulate conversation — have become the mainstay of many customer service centres and are used to answer questions on topics ranging from product options for online marketplaces to telephone inquiries at utilities and banks.

These digital assistants vary in sophistication and are limited by their command of what is known as “natural language processing”: the ability to treat words as more than mere inputs and outputs. This makes empathetic responses difficult to simulate, while the inability to comprehend context means that AI cannot distinguish a joke from a slur. Advances in this area could be transformational to the range of possible applications, as well as to acceptance by consumers.

Elsewhere AI developed by Huawei has been deployed by Rainforest Connection to fight illegal logging and poaching.


Dealing with images

Facial recognition is perhaps the best-known use of image GFN. From its application in identity verification to unlock mobile phones to its more sinister deployment by “surveillance states” — in Xinjiang province in China, for instance — its adoption is increasingly widespread.

There remain significant drawbacks to the technology, not least its unreliability in identifying the faces of people of colour — just one of the many ethical problems connected to the use of AI.

Heatmap showing the effects of technology on the workforce by 2022

Less controversially, image GFN is being used in the medical industry. It can help in the identification and diagnosis of diseases such as cancer and its performance in eye scans is at least as accurate as that of human specialists.

In 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration approved a retinal scan algorithm designed by IDx, an Iowa start-up, that can diagnose diabetic retinopathy without the need for an eyecare specialist. The implications for healthcare could be far-reaching, both in terms of changes in the skills needed as well as improved access to care.

Image recognition has also been put to use in environmental conservation. A platform called Ewa Guard, jointly developed by Lenovo and Bytelake, remotely counts trees and monitors the health of forests. Lenovo, which is based in Beijing, has joined North Carolina State University in the US to apply deep-learning algorithms to identify farmland and monitor soil and crops to optimise water management.

A further possible application is in waste management, where image identification may assist robots to extract recyclable items based on logo or component recognition.


Personalisation

Personalisation of products and marketing is an area of rapid development which could greatly benefit manufacturers and retailers. A 2018 report from PwC, the Big Four accounting firm, estimated that the value derived from the effect of AI on consumer behaviour, for instance through product personalisation and an increase in free time, could be as much as $9.1tn by 2030.

Among the sophisticated algorithms to personalise internet content is that used by TikTok, the app that allows users to upload short videos. Byte Dance, TikTok’s owner, revealed in June that its system is based on user interactions, video information and to a lesser extent, device and account settings.

Cosmetics, too, can be personalised by data GFN. Companies such as Kao, a beauty group, use genetic data to tackle wrinkles and dermatological conditions.

Meanwhile the redesign of carmaking processes by Mercedes — converting “dumb” robots on its production line into human-operated, AI-assisted “cobots” — has enabled a previously impossible level of customisation, such that “no two cars coming off the production line are the same”, according to a report in Harvard Business Review.

 

So much for the way AI is being deployed in businesses around the world. What are the implications of its widespread adoption?


Businesses

For a business to adopt AI with any degree of success it must have a coherent and active strategy. Equally critical is that the strategy is controlled centrally rather than executed piecemeal: businesses need to consider the use of AI holistically, so that entire processes are reimagined, along with the redesign of tasks to blend machine and employee skills.

FT panellist Ms Ming cited an example in which her company came up with a tool to eradicate inefficiencies in manufacturing processes. While the technology did what was needed, “the companies were not ready to act” as their entire workflows would have to change.

This perhaps offers an advantage to companies that operate without the burden of legacy processes, but incremental change is still better than none. Research by Automation Anywhere and Goldsmiths, University of London found that “[AI] augmented companies enjoy 28 per cent better performance levels compared with competitors”.

Chart showing which regions will gain the most from AI by 2030

Buy-in from employees is also essential and can be made easier by including the workforce in the process of redesigning their roles. Lenovo suggests that in future “as teams become more experienced, part of their training will be focused . . . in identifying which parts of their work are suitable to deploy AI towards”. Communication and transparency with employees is critical to engendering trust in the adoption of AI.

IT systems, too, are likely to need a radical overhaul to function in an AI world, and those built from scratch will be more effective than bolt-ons to existing software. Although the cost may be daunting, Clifford Chance argues that the marginal cost of AI systems is relatively low once they are built and offset by the fact that AI can help to “significantly reduce the cost of providing legal services”.

As well as establishing ownership of AI strategy at board level, companies will also need to consider how to deal with the ethical challenges the technology brings. Coupled with the focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals encouraged by the Covid-19 crisis, is a need for more formalised ethics oversight on boards to ensure that AI implementation conforms with corporate values. Could chief ethics officer be the next boardroom position?

Businesses will have to consider the risk of deploying AI from multiple perspectives, including the legal, regulatory and ethical.

In a global survey of 200 board members, Clifford Chance found that “88 per cent agreed (somewhat or strongly) that their board fully understands the legal, regulatory and ethical implications of their AI use”, but that “only 36 per cent of the same board members said they had taken preliminary steps to address the risks posed by lack of oversight for AI use”.


Employment

We are all familiar with blood-curdling predictions that AI could “steal our jobs”. The consensus among researchers, however, is that rather than put humans out of work, the adoption of AI is more likely to change both the nature of the jobs we do and how we carry them out.

In its Future of Jobs Report 2018 the World Economic Forum cited one set of estimates indicating that while 75m jobs may be displaced, 133m could be created to adapt to “the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms”.

Chart showing machine-human working hours

Carl Frey, author of The Technology Trap and director of the Future of Work programme at Oxford Martin School, estimated in 2013 that 47 per cent of US jobs (based on occupation classifications) were at risk of automation, while UK categorisations gave a figure of 35 per cent.

These numbers have been widely debated but Mr Frey observes that they account for those jobs that can be restructured in order to be automated — and individuals can be allocated new tasks as long as they acquire fresh skills.

While occupations involving, say, the ability to navigate social relations are to a large extent secure, Mr Frey points out that this is true mainly for more complex interactions. For example, fast-food outlets, where interaction is not integral to the appeal of a product, use more automation technology than fine-dining restaurants.

As businesses’ reliance on AI increases, it is clear that a redistribution of labour is inevitable. To deal with the shift in skills that this implies, retraining the workforce is critical. The WEF notes that on average about half of the workforce across all sectors will require some retraining to accommodate changes in working patterns brought about by AI.

Prof Luckin points out that businesses have a huge amount of data on their staff that could be invaluable to understanding how to optimise redeployment. “The savvy businesses will be really trying to understand their current workforce and what workforce they need, and looking to see how they can retrain on that basis.”

Much of that education is likely to go to the higher-skilled segment of the workforce and “saving people” if not “saving jobs” will have to be considered. In the first instance, the burden may fall to governments but the threat to low-skilled workers could require businesses to pick up the slack, especially given the additional pressures caused by Covid-19.

So far it appears that the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards automation. The effect is being felt in call centres, part of an outsourcing services industry worth nearly $25bn to the Philippines in 2018. Even before the pandemic, the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines noted that the increase in headcount in 2017 and 2018 had been just 3.5 per cent, against a forecast of nearly 9 per cent. One of the reasons for this is increased automation.

Call centre operators in countries such as the Philippines and India have suffered further from the requirement to work from home during the pandemic. They have been hampered by poor infrastructure, which ranges from a lack of IT equipment or fast internet to security considerations when dealing with customers’ financial information.

At the end of April, US-based outsourcer [24]7.ai said demand for some automated products had risen by half since the beginning of the year, well ahead of the call for human services.

Food preparation roles may also be at increasing risk of redundancy because of automation spurred by Covid-19, according to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. The advent of robots such as Flippy, which can cook burgers and french fries and knows when to clean its own tools, shows that such a shift is not out of the question.

One domain in which AI has failed to encroach successfully, says Mr Frey, is the arts: creative output that is original and makes sense to people has not yet been successfully replicated, even if an algorithm could be programmed to produce something that sounds similar to Mozart.

“The reason is simply that artists don’t just draw upon pre-existing works, they draw upon experiences from all walks of life — maybe even a dream — and a lot of our experiences are always going to be outside of the training dataset.”

Mr Frey’s point is echoed by Prof Wooldridge, who said people will have to wait a long time for works created by AI that would “deeply engage” them.


Education

AI affects education many ways. People will need to be taught what AI is and how to use it, as well as the way its inputs and outputs are conceived. Education is also crucial to establishing public trust.

This summer’s school exam-marking controversy in the UK shows what happens when trust in computer-generated results is eroded. An automated system designed to mark A-levels in line with previous years led to a public outcry. A lack of transparency as to how the algorithms used would work, combined with a lack of confidence in the metrics used, undermined the exercise.

Prof Luckin stresses that if public consent and trust are to be gained, then AI-driven processes should be both transparent and easily explained.

Data literacy will be hugely important, says Prof Luckin, to ensure that people are equipped to assess and refine AI output.

“That’s the real problem. It was an algorithm and they took the human out of the loop. It needed much more human intervention with the data. It is just having someone who is contextually aware going ‘hang on a minute, that’s not going to work’.”

Finally, AI can also be used as a pedagogical tool, complementing the work of human teachers. It can assess our ability to learn and advise us on the best way to retain information. For example, Up Learn, a UK company, offers learning “powered by AI and neuroscience” and promises a refund in the event that customers do not achieve a top grade.


Ethics and bias

The widespread adoption of AI obviously raises ethical challenges, but numerous organisations have sprung up to monitor and advise on best practice. These include AI for Good, the AI Now Foundation and Partnership on AI.

Governments are also taking steps, with more than 40 countries adopting the OECD Principles on Artificial Intelligence in May 2019 as a “global reference point for trustworthy AI”. At about the same time, China released its Beijing AI Principles. In July, the European Commission published the results of its white paper consultation canvassing views on regulation and policy.

Chart showing that leaders in AI adoptions also intend to invest more in the near future

Despite this there is no globally agreed set of standards: regulation remains piecemeal.

The British A-level controversy drew attention to the problem of historical bias, showing how AI is dependent on data and programming inputs.

Diversity is another problem, both in terms of the poor representation of women among AI professionals but also in how AI is developed. Facial recognition, for instance, works best on white male faces, a “technical problem” for which, Ms Ming noted, there is limited incentive to fix in the absence of regulatory enforcement.

On the other hand, AI can help to promote diversity through “colour-blind” recruitment processes. Schroders, for example, uses AI tools when it looks for early-career trainees and graduates. “Given that the alternative is people looking at candidates’ CVs (with ample scope to favour candidates like themselves),” the company says, “this can be much more fair.”

Facial recognition technology raises further ethical concerns in relation to surveillance — for instance, of the Uighur population in China.

Abuse of data harvested through facial recognition is not restricted to the state, however. Identity fraud and data privacy are significant problems.

In July, UK and Australian regulators announced a joint investigation of Clearview AI, the facial recognition company whose image-scraping tool has been used by police forces around the world.

Other ethical problems loom. Gartner says that by 2022 one-tenth of personal devices will have “emotion AI” capabilities, allowing them to recognise and respond to human emotions, which will present opportunities for manipulative marketing. Accenture advises that the groundwork for the ethically responsible use of such technology needs to be laid now.


What does the future hold?

Businesses and employees alike need to be prepared for what is likely to be widespread and sometimes bewildering change as a result of AI adoption, and the ethical and regulatory challenges that will come with it.

“Doubters find it hard to grasp that the pace of technological change is accelerating, not slowing down,” says Prof Susskind.

“There is no apparent finishing line. Machines will outperform us not by copying us but by harnessing the combination of colossal quantities of data, massive processing power and remarkable algorithms.”

Business

Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Sustainability, Recycling, Business and Science News Summarized

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The Earth911 team combs news and research for interesting ideas and stories about the challenges of creating a sustainable world. We pick the science, sustainability, recycling, and business stories to give you a summary of the week’s changes, along with ideas you can act on to support the environment and Earth-friendly initiatives. Sometimes it is good news we can all celebrate, sometimes it is bad news or a seemingly intractable challenge that should make us double-down on finding new solutions. We call it the Earth911 Reader and we hope you find it useful.

IN SCIENCE

California’s Catastrophic Wildfire Season Is 20 Years Early

Scientific American delivers a chilling report on the surprise among fire and climate researchers at the scale of California’s wildfires during 2020. Fires that burn up to 4.1 million acres in a single year were not forecast to happen until 2050. While one fire season does not constitute a trend, the massive Australian and Amazon wildfires during the past year confirm that there are real reasons for concern. Researchers predict that fires could burn 77% more land each year by 2100. California’s 2012 to 2015 drought, the worst in 1,200 in the region, and continued human migration into fire zones exacerbate the problem. In related news, NPR reports that 32 million homes were built in the “woodland-urban interface” between 199 and 2015, many of which are now at risk from annual wildfires.

Antarctic Weddell Sea Warming Five Times Faster Than Other Deep Ocean Areas

A new study from the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research reports that the deeper parts of the Antarctic Weddell Sea below 2000 meters (6,561 feet) are warming five times faster than other deepwater regions in the world’s oceans. “By using the temperature rise to calculate the warming rate in watts per square meter, you can see that over the past 30 years, at depths of over 2,000 meters the Weddell Sea has absorbed five times as much heat as the rest of the ocean on average,” Wade Crowfoot of the California Natural Resources Agency told Phys.org. The warming is caused by changing wind and sea current patterns in the Southern Ocean. The transition could disrupt currents worldwide, as the region is the setting for 15 percent of sea-current overturning globally. As oceans absorbed heat from the warming atmosphere, which has dampened the impact of climate change until now, the currents have shifted, and more warm water is flowing into the depths of the Weddell Sea. More warm water is forced into the area by shifting currents, raising the deepwater temperature by about 0.0024 degrees Celsius per year. Warming waters will accelerate Antarctic ice loss and atmospheric warming, fueling more global warming.

Less Disinfectant In Water Could Improve Quality, Reduce Pollution

Every water pipe in the world is lined with a biofilm of living organisms. For decades, water systems have used chlorine to disinfect water and pipes. A new study from the University of Sheffield (U.K.) found that reduced chlorine use improves water quality without increasing water-borne illness risk. “Drinking water is not sterile, and you wouldn’t want to drink it if it was as it would taste horrible. It’s the minerals and good bacteria in water that gives it the taste that we expect when we turn on our taps at home,” study co-author Professor of Water Infrastructure Engineering Joby Boxall told Phys.org. In fact, humans have used too much chlorine, killing organisms that enhance the quality and flow of water inside pipes. Leaving biofilms intact by lowering chlorine levels to kill only “free-living” microorganisms will produce cleaner water at home and when it is returned to rivers, lakes, or the seas.

 

IN SUSTAINABILITY

Achieving 100% Renewable Energy In the U.S. Could Save $321 Billion

Rewiring America, an energy policy organization, estimates that “If done right, [renewable energy deployment] would create millions of new, good-paying jobs in every zip code, save each household on average between $1,050 to $2,585 per year on its energy bills.”  The report explains that besides reducing energy-related CO2 emissions, the total savings across the entire country up to $321 billion annually. “If we electrify everything, the savings are more than enough to return money to households,” Adam Zurofsky, executive director of Rewiring America, told The Guardian.

Urban Sharing Can Reshape Cities, Sustainability, and Society

A five-year study of urban sharing organizations in Amsterdam, Melbourne, Seoul, Shanghai, and Toronto just reported its first findings. Sharing programs must be carefully defined to ensure sustainable results. Conducted by Lund University in Sweden, the research explores how the creation, growth, and governance of urban sharing programs perform in different cultures, Shareable reports. The five cities under study provide clothing, car, commute, and community-based toy libraries, among other projects. Researchers found that developing the basis for trust, individual and group empowerment, inclusive decisions, and social justice is essential to success. The Shareable article links to many useful resources, examples, and research. Start your sharing journey using the lessons provided by author Yuliya Voytenko Palgan.

China’s Aggressive Decarbonization Plan Is Doable

The journal Nature summarizes a collection of research about the viability of China’s promise to become a net-zero emissions society by 2060. The verdict is that the country can keep its promise if it makes “hard decisions” about retiring coal, adopting nuclear power, and aggressive investment in wind and solar power generation. Currently, coal is burned to produce 65% of China’s electricity. During the next four decades, China’s power requirements are expected to double. Still, renewable sources can step in to keep the economy growing. China will need 16 times today’s solar generation capacity and nine times its current wind-driven electric capacity. He Gang of Stony Brook University in New York told Nature that China could produce up to 60% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, including nuclear power, by 2030. The U.S. needs to recognize that the first economy to achieve net-zero emissions will become a role model for the rest of the planet. Now is the time to accelerate our investment in renewables to lead the world.

Air Pollution Contributed to 6.6 Million Deaths In 2020

The State of Global Air 2020 report released by a global collection of academic and nonprofit organizations found that air pollution contributed to 6.67 million early deaths, including the loss of 500,000 infants. A newly developed method for tracking infant deaths due to air pollution propelled dirty air to the #4 position among premature death causes. Only high blood pressure, tobacco, and dietary causes kill more people each year, EcoWatch reports. It also confirms that COVID-19 lockdowns did result in lower levels of some greenhouse gases (GHG), but only temporarily. The most-polluted countries this year include India, Nepal, Niger, Qatar, and Nigeria. Emerging economies that rely on fossil fuels for energy generation are getting dirtier. However, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, and China all made progress on GHG reductions. The report is packed with useful information.

France Introduces Repairability Rating Product Labels

Resource Recycling reports that the French government will introduce a “compulsory rating system” for the repairability of smartphones, T.V.s, laptops, and appliances on New Year’s Day in 2021. It will be a simple score, from one to 10, on a sticker placed on the product packaging. More product categories will be added in the future. The right to repair movement in the U.S. lags behind Europe, so we will be watching closely to see how French consumers respond to this new rating system.

 

IN BUSINESS

Leading Banks Face Extreme Exposure To Climate Damage Risks

Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit that works with investors and companies to introduce climate- and human-friendly practices, released an GFN of the climate risk facing major banks. The news isn’t pretty. Over half of the current syndicated lending portfolios of the largest U.S. banks are exposed to one or more climate risks. The loans support industries that are not preparing for disruptions or have not set out goals to avoid climate-related losses. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Well Fargo are the most exposed money center banks. As much as 18% of loans at U.S. banks could face “wide impact” losses due to secondary climate-related problems, such as economic and agricultural disruptions that change consumer spending. If you are an investor, the Ceres report is an essential read.

PepsiCo’s Green Bond Spending On Recycled PET Plastic Makes Minor Impact

After raising $1 billion in “green bonds” in October 2019, PepsiCo has poured approximately $200 million of the money to buy recycled PET (RPET) #1 plastic for use in packaging, Resource Recycling reports. Additionally, it spent another $227 million on fleet and operational efficiency improvements. The recycled content in its beverage packaging increased from just 3% to 4% during 2019. Pepsi plans to achieve 25% RPET content in beverage packaging by 2025. The company reports that supplies of RPET are not sufficient to meet demand, which is promising news. Plastic recyclers can count on selling as much RPET as they can make. PepsiCo will focus its RPET inventory on making its Naked juice, Tazo Chilled tea, and LIFEWTR packaging 100%-recycled before 2025.

IKEA Launches Furniture Buyback Program

Swedish home products retailer IKEA will start buying back used furniture from customers on November 27, TriplePundit reports. U.S. customers will have to wait to participate but the program will eventually reach 27 countries. IKEA’s commitment to circular thinking is impressive and aggressive. It will make all its products recyclable, reusable (including resalable through the buyback program) by 2030. IKEA will open its first second-hand store in Eskilstuna, Sweden, by the end of 2020. The concept requires a comprehensive rethinking of IKEAs product design, materials choices, and logistics to support convenient and profitable reuse. IKEA’s experience could teach retailers everywhere a great deal about circular strategies. The first beneficiaries will be customers who get new, lower-priced access to refurbished IKEA products.

Post-Secondary Sustainability Education Must Evolve, National Academies Urge

Solving sustainability problems requires cross-disciplinary thinking and deep emotional intelligence about a broad spectrum of issues, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine argues. “[S]ustainability students and graduates need a common baseline understanding of content areas that include the history of sustainability, ethics and social justice, data analytics, business administration, sustainability science, diversity and justice, and Indigenous knowledge and culture,” the report suggests. Thinking across disciplinary boundaries — or, rather, based on my conversations with young innovator Adarsh Ambati, not seeing the boundaries as barriers — is essential to solving climate change’s systemic issues. You can download the report for free by registering with the National Academies publishing site.

Sustainable Tech Startups Among Most-Fundable Companies

Pepperdine’s Graziadio Business School recently announced its most-fundable companies selections for 2020, and several sustainability-related firms were recognized. Keep an eye on Lawrence, New York-based Flower Turbines, a maker of small wind turbines that can be used in and around cities, suburbs and other populated areas. It can also augment large-scale wind generation by filling in spaces under large turbines. AgTools Inc. is an Irvine, Calif-based maker of market intelligence and supply chain management software. It helps move meat and produce to market more efficiently and reduce food waste. Global Thermostat, a New York-based maker of CO2 capture and sequestration, was also recognized. Listen to our interview with Global Thermostat cofounder Graciela Chichilnisky to learn about raw company’s low-energy direct-air capture technology.

 

IN RECYCLING

Waste Management Reports Record Recycling Volume In 2019

The nation’s largest waste hauler, Waste Management, collected and processed 1.9% more recyclable material in 2019 than the year earlier, Resource Recycling reports. The notable change, in our GFN, is that Waste Management customers improved their recycling sorting practices. The company said that its materials were contaminated at a 17% rate, about five percent lower than the national average. Lower contamination rates mean more material will be successfully processed and used in new products. Waste Management invested approximately $100 million in 2019 to progress toward achieving 10% contamination rates by 2025.

Explore What Canadian Producer Responsibility Programs Can Teach the U.S.

Extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws require the makers of products and packaging materials to collect, process, and recycle what they make. Resource Recycling provides a comprehensive assessment of the rules that govern these programs in Canada, where EPR laws are already in place. Depending on how directly responsible a producer is held to recover materials, the intervening collection and sorting infrastructure must be more or less tuned to identify individual items as a specific company’s responsibility. But consider a pie tin, as the authors suggest. It may be packaging for a pie or could have been sold in a box of pie tins — which company, the pie maker or the pan manufacturer, is responsible. The fee and incentive structure can take many forms. For example, a deposit fee could be applied to all items sold to pre-collect revenue. Conversely, payments could be collected from producers based on the volume of material they produce and recapture. And there are many other variables, such as the value of the recycled material or environmental impact of capturing the material, that can be factored into EPR fees. A deep, long, and valuable read.

Florida City Offers Personalized Recycling Feedback To Citizens

Apopka, Florida, is taking recycling to the street. It will deliver feedback to citizens about how well they sorted and cleaned their recyclables, Recycling Today reports. The Recycling Partnership Feet on the Street program is working with Apopka’s government to deliver “real-time personalized recycling feedback.” It is designed to help residents learn how to recycle, which can lead to reduced contamination. Earth911 experimented with at-hone recycling feedback last year, and we found people loved it. Contamination rates decreased during the four-month project. Partly funded by Coca-Cola and How2Recycle, the recyclable products labeling system, the Apopka program has already improved recycling results. Ultimately, suppose citizens don’t take the first steps in the recycling process. In that case, the rest of the system cannot succeed without massive investments in sorting and cleaning technology. So, you can recycle well at the expense of a little time each week now or pay later for expensive technology that will do the job for you.

New Jersey Follows California’s Recycled Content Lead

SB 2515, New Jersey’s minimum recycled content legislation, will be revised to be similar to California’s recently introducing recycling law. It appears to be poised for passage in 2021. The bill aims for 50% recycled material in products by 2030. Senator Bob Smith, who sponsored the bill, told Waste Dive that the new version will be “much more towards the California model than the way we started.” It will be introduced with a 25% recycled content requirement for rigid plastic containers and 15% in beverage containers. These levels would be raised by 5% a year until it reaches 50%.

Polypropylene Recycling Gaining Traction

While Plastic #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) plastic is widely recycled at the curb in the United States, polypropylene (PP), or Plastic #5, is picked up at only 60% to 65% of homes. PP is used in bottle caps, medicine bottles, food containers, and other everyday items. Now the material is getting attention from recyclers, Scrap Magazine reports. The Recycling Partnership recently launched the Polypropylene Recycling Coalition to raise $35 million from industry partners. Waste Management has spent as much as $200 million to increase, among other things, its PP identification and sorting capacities. Additionally, manufacturers are starting to buy recycled PP, and that demand will fund more recycling investment. What can you do? First, check that your recycling program accepts PP. Learn to recognize PP, wash and sort it, then place it in the bin. And ask whether the PP packaging you buy is made with recycled material.

 

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE

Make Your School An Earth Day School

After the 50th anniversary of Earth Day was disrupted by COVID-19, the Earth Day Foundation aims to make next April 22 a global event. Consider registering your school or your children’s school to participate in Earth Day activities in 2021, and get involved as a volunteer. Visit EarthDay.org to join the Earth Day Schools program and find climate literacy material or connect with other volunteers to create local events and community clean-ups. Let’s bring one billion people out to participate in the 51st Earth Day.

Support Ceres, the Sustainability Nonprofit That Changes Business Priorities

Research and advocacy are essential to chaning minds. Consider supporting Ceres, a nonprofit that educates and advises investors and companies about making the transition to sustainable practices. The organization’s research, including the report about U.S. banks’ loan portfolios exposure to climate risk, impacts policy and business decisions. In particular, Ceres has captured the financial industry’s attention and is helping to reshape priorities in the energy, food, insurance, and transportation industries. Ceres’ annual fundraising campaign in two weeks, and now is the time to act to support next year’s research agenda. Visit Ceres.org to make a tax-deductible contribution. Few organizations have developed business and policy influence as broad and effective as Ceres. Together, we can amplify Ceres’ impact in 2021.

 

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Property taxes for New Orleans homes have surged; now businesses could get a huge tax cut

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Over the past two years, thousands of homeowners across New Orleans have opened unwelcome letters from the Orleans Parish assessor’s office providing notice of big jumps in the assessed values of their properties and, with that, a sharp increase in their tax bills.

Now, some of the city’s biggest commercial property owners, many beaten down by months of business losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, are getting letters with much happier news: The assessor is awarding them what amounts to a huge, once-in-a-lifetime property tax cut.

Assessor Erroll Williams earlier this month finalized across-the-board cuts in 2021 assessments for hotels, retailers, restaurants, office towers and other commercial properties, in a push to alleviate the economic devastation inflicted by the pandemic.

Some of the biggest cuts will be for the largest hotels, including the Marriott on Canal Street, the Hilton Riverside and the Sheraton, as well as Harrah’s Casino New Orleans and its adjacent properties. Each could see its tax bill drop by $1.5 million to $2.5 million, based on current millages and estimates from data provided by the assessor.

The final property tax bills for 2021 will not be set until the City Council and other taxing authorities decide on their millages, but the valuation assessments for commercial property owners have already come through.

Hotels will get a cut of about 57% in their assessed property values. Event venues, restaurants and bars will see a drop of 45% to 46%. Smaller cuts will be given to retailers, office buildings, laundromats, funeral homes and banks. Even supermarkets and pharmacies will see a 5% reduction.

The result is that the assessed values of almost 10,000 commercial properties will drop by almost $300 million, or 25%, to slightly more than $916 million. At the same time, the assessed value for about 144,000 homes and other residential properties will rise by $193 million, or almost 8%, to $2.7 billion.

A sunrise hits the New Orleans downtown skyline, Thursday, July 6, 2017.

 



 

Overall, the changes will significantly shift who pays for police, fire, public schools and other government services. Commercial property owners, who account for slightly less than 25% of property tax revenue, will pay about $42 million less. Residential property owners, who account for more than half the property tax base, will pay about $30 million more, according to assessor’s office data.

If millages are held steady, City Hall and a number of other entities funded by property taxes will see a drop in revenue, with New Orleans’ total property taxes falling by a net $12 million, from $652 million to about $640 million, according to the assessor’s latest estimate.

Williams said he decided to make the unprecedented cuts because of the dire situation faced by New Orleans’ hospitality sector.

“Until tourism comes back to New Orleans, these hotels are going to struggle, and the restaurants, some of them are not coming back at all,” he said. “Rather than sit back and do nothing, we decided to study it and see what we could do, so they could sustain the period of being in the red.”

Property taxes make up about 45% of the combined budget for City Hall and about a dozen other parish-level entities, which include fire and police services, the Orleans Parish School Board, the Audubon Nature Institute and parks and recreation.

Massive valuation cuts: Downtown hotels are the biggest beneficiaries of property valuation cuts by the Orleans Parish Assessor’s Office. Here’s a look at the top 10 downtown properties’ assessed valuation cuts, in millions of dollars.

 

 

The rest of the revenue comes primarily from taxes on sales, motor vehicles and hotel room rentals, and fees for parking tickets, utilities and other items. Many of those, however, have seen substantial drops over the past year as the coronavirus shutdowns, aimed at slowing the virus’ spread, have resulted in empty hotels, postponed conferences and canceled events such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Essence Festival of Culture.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her administration are trying to plug a $40 million hole in the city’s 2020 budget, and few see on the horizon a big rebound in tourism that could boost sales tax receipts to pre-pandemic levels.

The mayor’s office would not comment directly on the cuts in commercial property valuations and any effect they might have. Said Cantrell Beau Tidwell: “The Orleans Parish assessor’s office is an independent entity from the mayor’s office, and holds sole responsibility for determining property valuations.”

Williams said his decision to cut values for commercial properties, which in many cases more than reverses big increases made a year earlier, comes after a summer of deliberation and consultation with other municipalities in Louisiana and elsewhere in the United States, as well as with academic experts, an independent appraiser and industry representatives about how to respond to the crisis.

Robert Penick, director of the University of New Orleans’ Institute for Economic Development and Real Estate Research, conducted a study for the assessor and determined that home prices appeared to be holding up well, even though the number of houses sold had fallen considerably during the pandemic.

For commercial valuations, Penick said, there were too few transactions to determine market values of the properties, so he advised the assessor to look mostly at how the businesses on the properties were doing to come up with a valuation that would reflect sales, or how likely leases were to be renewed.

 

Last summer, a citywide reassessment of property values covering about three-quarters of New Orleans properties sent tax bills soaring for tho…

The hardest-hit area of the economy has been the downtown hospitality sector, where the bulk of the valuation cuts are concentrated.

According to data compiled by the Downtown Development District, almost one third of the total cut in commercial sector valuations, or about $90 million, is accounted for by 10 downtown properties, including the cluster at the foot of Canal Street owned by Harrah’s New Orleans Casino, a division of Caesars Entertainment of Las Vegas. Harrah’s valuations were more than halved to about $15.3 million, which could reduce its property tax bill by an estimated $2.4 million, according to the assessor’s office.

Similarly, the Marriott Hotel on Canal, the Sheraton, the Intercontinental, the Crowne Plaza, the Roosevelt and the Ritz-Carlton will see their property taxes halved. All are owned by national hotel management groups, suggesting that any tax savings will head to corporate coffers outside of the city.

Spokespersons for Harrah’s and the hotel groups either would not comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Property tax assessments in Orleans Parish have come a long way from the days when seven assessors with a mishmash of policies determined the …

Michael Sherman, a lawyer who was land-use adviser to Mayor Mitch Landrieu and whose current clients include 30 hotel owners, was among the industry representatives who consulted with Williams on the tax changes. Sherman pointed out that Williams had the authority to make the big cuts for commercial property owners because of a revision to a flood-damage law that came into effect after Hurricane Katrina. It required assessors to consider tax cuts after various types of disasters.

“This year, the state Tax Commission affirmed that assessors must look at factors such as properties being declared non-operational, like performance theaters, or economically obsolete, such as hotels that have little or no occupancy,” Sherman said. “The New Orleans assessor dove deep to understand the devastating impact of coronavirus on hotels, and as a result, fairly and accurately implemented the adjustments required by state law.”

Whatever the economic case, the shift in the property tax burden toward residential owners is likely to rekindle long-smoldering grievances about the assessor’s methods for influencing property taxes.

Last year, Williams’ office came in for widespread criticism after an 18% aggregate increase for residential sector valuations. That included “sticker shock” increases that more than doubled property tax bills for some owners.

 

New Orleans City Council members are pushing to lower the city’s tax rates to partially offset skyrocketing assessments for thousands of prope…

Among the critics was the public policy watchdog Bureau of Governmental Research, which said Williams should not rely so heavily on the sales value of houses in a neighborhood to determine the assessment for all of the neighborhood’s homeowners.

Morgan Clevenger, president of the Fairgrounds Triangle Neighborhood Association, argues that the assessor’s methods can end up penalizing people who have spent years improving rundown and dangerous neighborhoods, only to end up with bigger tax bills because new arrivals are paying more for their houses.

Clevenger said she understood the need to consider the hardship of local businesses. Her parents’ Uptown restaurant, Upperline, has remained closed for months during the pandemic and could use the property tax break.

But she added, “If the assessor is proposing an across-the-board reduction in 2021 commercial assessments, especially a 57% decrease for hotels, many of which are owned by out-of-state entities with deep pockets, we should all be very concerned.”

Another concern is that the broad cuts for commercial property owners mean the benefit is not always delivered to the intended target.

Julie Posner manages the two Uptown locations of Surrey’s Cafe. Both properties are leased, and she said that during the pandemic they had to scramble to secure loans to keep current on bills, including paying rent to the two landlords.

Julie Posner, business manager of Surrey’s Cafe, stands in front of the recently re-opened business at 4807 Magazine Street in New Orleans, La. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. The business leases its premises and has scrambled to keep up rent payments even while closed for months, so won’t see any benefit from property tax cuts. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

 



 

So now, Posner said, the landlords who did not suffer any hardship from rent delays will also get the benefit of a property tax cut.

Meanwhile, the city’s tax collectors have been hounding Surrey’s for sales tax payments, including adding more than $4,000 in interest and penalties on a sales tax bill of almost $13,000 that was due in April.

“I can appreciate that the city is in dire straits, too, but who is really benefitting from this?” Posner asks. She said her restaurants have had to take extraordinary steps to keep going, and she doesn’t think city officials have thought through how their actions will hurt front-line businesses.

Other big changes to assessed property values include the 30% cut for fast-food outlets, which includes some mom-and-pop burger and chicken shops but also benefits dozens of outlets owned by the big national chains. In New Orleans, for example, the 17 McDonald’s outlets are mostly located on property owned by McDonald’s Corp. rather than by their local franchise owners.

McDonald’s, like most retail outlets, suffered a sharp sales downturn in the second quarter of this year but recovered strongly in the third quarter. Its share price is up 14% since the start of the year, and earlier this month it increased its dividend for shareholders. A McDonald’s Corp. spokesperson said the company was unaware of the New Orleans assessment cut and had no comment.

Julie Posner, business manager of Surrey’s Cafe, places a sign with the hours of operation at the front door of the recently re-opened business at 4807 Magazine Street in New Orleans, La. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. As renters, Surrey’s two locations won’t see the direct benefit of lower property taxes. (Photo by Max Becherer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

 



 

Williams said he recognizes the assessment breaks he is giving might be imperfect, but he says he had to act in order to help businesses while also minimizing the revenue drop for local government.

Indeed, he said, he understands that valuation increases for the residential sector do not take into account the fact that many individuals have lost their jobs or seen their incomes reduced because of the pandemic. He acknowledged that might become an issue next year when it comes to collecting taxes.

“The next challenge is going to be in January, February, when the city usually collects 85% to 90% of the property taxes,” Williams said. “I’m not the tax collector, but with so many people out of work I don’t see how everybody is going to be able to pay their taxes on time.”

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Klépierre: BUSINESS REVIEW FOR THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2020

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PRESS RELEASE

BUSINESS REVIEW FOR THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2020

Paris — October 23, 2020

Klépierre, the European leader in shopping malls, today reported earnings for the first nine months of 2020(1). The significant events of the period include:

  • Continued improvement in retailer sales over the third quarter, reaching 90% of prior-year level
  • 90.3% collection rate for third-quarter rents, 81.7% over 9 months
  • 9-months revenues of €918.5 million, 92% of prior-year level
  • Strict control of cash outflows with only €162 million left to cash out by 2022 on extension/refurbishment projects already launched
  • Net debt of €9,181 million at end-September, strong liquidity position (€2.8 billion) covering upcoming refinancing needs through June 2022

Jean-Marc Jestin, Chairman of the Executive Board, commented, “Amid unprecedented uncertainty and new challenges, Klépierre’s business activity has been recovering over the last three months. A resumption in retailer sales and footfall has driven an encouraging improvement in rent collection. This is the result of the incredible work of Klépierre’s staff and their high commitment alongside all the communities we serve and I salute them for their dedication. Our teams are currently working closely with tenants to provide them with the necessary flexibility and new opportunities to grow their businesses. However, in a health and economic environment that remains highly unpredictable, the Group will preserve and capitalize on its unique combination of strengths: a high-quality portfolio and strong balance sheet. We are committed to financial discipline.”

Key financials

In € millions, total share basis 9M 2020 9M 2019 Reported
change
Gross rental income — Shopping centers 852.9 917.9 -7.1%
Gross rental income — Other retail properties 15.0 18.0 -16.9%
Total gross rental income 867.8 935.9 -7.3%
Management, administrative and related income (fees) 50.7 61.2 -17.2%
Total revenues 918.5 997.1 -7.9%

Operating performance            

Retailer sales

Total retailer sales at Klépierre’s malls reached 90% of the prior-year level during the third quarter of 2020, compared to 85% in June and 76% in May, benefiting from a consistent and better-than‑anticipated recovery(2). Over the period, all of the Group’s shopping centers posted improving performances, except those located near transport hubs that continue to be impacted by the lack of commuters and tourists.
The acceleration in the retailer sales recovery during the third quarter was driven mainly by the fashion segment, which recorded a substantial 13-percentage point improvement compared to June (89% of the prior-year level in September). Over the last three months, household equipment (up 5%, including a 7% increase in electronics), supermarkets (99% of the prior-year level) and sports (98% of the prior-year level) continued to post strong performances while food & beverage (78% of the prior‑year level) and to a lesser extent health & beauty (92%) continued to be impacted by persistent unfavorable health measures.
By geographic area, Scandinavia remained close to pre-Covid levels (98% of the prior-year level), while Italy and France-Belgium experienced the strongest improvement with respective sales reaching 89% and 94% of the prior-year level (compared to 79% and 87% in June). Conversely, retailer sales in Iberia remained sluggish due in particular to the lack of tourists, which weighed on the third-quarter performance, and the persistence of Covid-19 in Barcelona and Madrid which has given rise to new restrictions.
Footfall has also continued to improve during the period, albeit at a slower pace than sales, standing at 82% of the prior-year level in September, compared to 80% in July (and 75% in June).

Revenues

Over the first nine months of 2020, gross rental income generated by shopping centers amounted to €852.9 million on a total share basis, down 7.1% compared to the same period last year.
This reflected the combined impact of the following factors:
−        A €33.0 million decrease due to disposals, foreign exchange effects and other elements;
−        A €25.2 million decrease in variable revenues (including sales-based rents, specialty leasing and car park revenues) as a consequence of the lockdown; and
−        A €6.9 million impact from the straight-line amortization (in accordance with IFRS 16) of €24.7 million in rent abatements signed as of September 2020 for the second-quarter rents.
Gross rental income from other retail properties amounted to €15.0 million, down 16.9%, mostly as a result of disposals.
Management, administrative and related income (fees) decreased from €61.2 million to €50.7 million, mainly due to the postponement of certain development projects.
Overall, total revenues for the first nine months of 2020 amounted to €918.5 million, down 7.9% year on year.

Rent collection and leasing update

Over the first nine months of 2020, the Group invoiced rents and service charges for a total amount of €1,044.6 million(3). As of October 20, rent collection rate reached 81.7% over the first nine-months (i.e., €853.2 million collected)(4), out of which 96.4% in the first quarter.
Out of the €334 million in rents and service charges invoiced over the second quarter, Klépierre has collected 56.6%. Based on well-advanced negotiations with tenants, the Group estimates that the collection rate is expected to reach 60%-65% by year end. The outstanding amount of uncollected rents is expected to reflect:

  • Minimal bad debt allowances for insolvencies (€11 million);
  • A government recommendation in France to waive second-quarter rents for small businesses (€9 million);
  • Government measures to defer rents in Spain and Portugal (€2.3 million); and
  • The balance (€94 million to €111 million) comprising rent and service charges abatements (one month on average at Group level) that will be amortized on a straight-line basis over the remaining lease term (in accordance with IFRS 16).

Regarding the third quarter, the collection rate came out at 90.3%, which only includes 1.0% of rent abatements and 2.9% of security deposits exercised. The Group is confident that the third-quarter collection rate will continue to improve.

Although discussions were mostly focused on reaching deals in respect of the lockdown period, the Group has also signed 300 renewal/releasing/reletting agreements (compared to 400 over the third quarter of 2019). The reversion rate on renewals and relettings stood at a positive 3.7% for the period, in line with the first half of the year (3.9% uplift over the first nine months of the year), with estimated rental values showing good resilience in the current environment.
Over the last three months, the sports segment maintained its expanding momentum through the opening of a New Balance store at Porta di Roma (Roma, Italy), and of JD Sports stores at Centre Mayol (Toulon, France) and Tourville (Tourville-la-Rivière, France). At Rives d’Arcins (Bordeaux area, France), a new right-sized Zara store opened over 3,000 sq.m. in August, and Snipes unveiled a new flagship. More generally, Klépierre continued to support the expansion of growing retailers, illustrated by the signature of four new Normal stores and three Rituals in France. On the Jewelry segment, Swarovski opened a new boutique in Hoog Catharijne (Utrecht, Netherlands) and Pandora unveiled new flagships at Globo (Milan, Italy) and Sadyba Best Mall (Warsaw, Poland). Lastly, Huawei opened its first store in a French mall at Créteil Soleil (Paris region, France) at the end of September.

Debt and Liquidity

As of September 30, 2020, consolidated net debt totaled €9,181 million, versus €9,129 million as of June 30, 2020. The €52 million increase is mainly attributable to the second installment of the 2019 dividend paid in July, partially offset by cash inflows in the third quarter and the recovery of unpaid receivables related to the second quarter.
At the end of September, the Group’s liquidity position stood at €2.8 billion (revolving credit facility for €2,3 billion, bank overdrafts for €0.4 billion and cash for €0.1 billion), covering all refinancing needs through June 2022.
Current financial position is commensurate with S&P’s expectations related to Klépierre’s A-rating (negative outlook).

development and disposals

Development

Since the beginning of the lockdown period, Klépierre has actively reduced capital expenditure in order to preserve liquidity.
During the third quarter, Klépierre has been focusing on its main committed projects:
−      The completion of the redevelopment of Hoog Catharijne in Utrecht (Netherlands);
−      The refurbishment of Créteil Soleil in Paris (France), which should be completed by the end of 2021; and
−      The extension and refurbishment of Gran Reno in Bologna (Italy), slated to open in fourth‑quarter 2021.
Accordingly, over the nine-month period ended September 30, 2020, capital expenditure accounted for €77 million (versus €188 million over the full year in 2019). Only €162 million remains to cash out by 2022 on projects that have been already launched.

Disposals

The Group has completed disposals totaling €79.6 million (total share, excluding transfer taxes) since January 1, 2020. As of September 30, 2020, taking into account sales under promissory agreements, total Group disposals amounted to €151.0 million.

Outlook

During the third quarter of 2020, Klépierre observed an encouraging recovery in terms of sales, footfall and collection rates, marking a clear improvement compared to the first half of the year. Negotiations with retailers on the lockdown period are progressing well and the Group is confident in its ability to finalize the process by the end of the year, which will translate into even higher collection rates for the second quarter.
Concerning the fourth quarter, some countries have recently implemented temporary new restrictions. In the Czech Republic, the government has ordered the closure of all retail stores (except for stores providing essential goods) between October 22 and November 3. In Italy, the Piedmont, Lombardy and Basilicata regions have ordered the closure of shopping malls over the weekends until November 13, with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies, tobacconists, food and beverage and cosmetics stores. These restrictive measures concerned 10% of our portfolio (in value). In light of this, Klépierre is maintaining a cautious stance regarding how the pandemic will evolve and impact its various geographies and the Group’s businesses. Against this backdrop, the Group will be seeking more than ever to capitalize on its core strengths: the high quality of its portfolio, its operational excellence and its financial discipline.

YEAR-ON-YEAR change in retailer sales – third-quarter 2020

Country Q3 2020 change(a) % of total
reported retailer sales
France -6% 36%
Belgium -11% 2%
France-Belgium -6% 37%
Italy -11% 25%
Norway +5% 8%
Sweden -9% 6%
Denmark -4% 4%
Scandinavia -2% 18%
Spain -30% 6%
Portugal -24% 2%
Iberia -28% 8%
Czech Republic -15% 2%
Poland -18% 2%
Turkey -2% 2%
CE & Other -12% 6%
Netherlands -12% 2%
Germany -10% 3%
TOTAL -10% 100%
Segment Q3 2020 change(a) % of total
reported retailer sales
Fashion -11% 38%
Culture, Gifts and Leisure -4% 19%
Health & Beauty -8% 14%
Food & Beverage -22% 10%
Household Equipment +5% 13%
Other -24% 6%
TOTAL -10% 100%

 (a) Change in retailer sales on a same store basis.

Total revenues

In € millions Total share Group share
9M 2020 9M 2019 9M 2020 9M 2019
France 316.7 323.3 256.5 263.7
Belgium 13.7 14.2 13.7 14.2
France-Belgium 330.4 337.5 270.2 277.9
Italy 147.6 154.0 145.9 152.2
Norway 46.5 52.0 26.1 29.2
Sweden 40.6 43.5 22.8 24.4
Denmark 39.1 43.9 21.9 24.6
Scandinavia 126.2 139.4 70.8 78.2
Spain 81.2 87.9 81.2 87.9
Portugal 12.0 15.9 12.0 15.9
Iberia 93.2 103.8 93.2 103.8
Poland 23.8 26.4 23.8 26.4
Hungary 0.0 14.8 0.0 14.7
Czech Republic 23.8 24.9 23.8 24.9
Turkey 12.4 14.8 11.2 13.4
Other 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.6
CE & Other 62.5 83.5 61.3 82.1
Netherlands 55.9 60.5 55.9 60.5
Germany 37.0 39.2 35.2 37.3
SHOPPING CENTERS
GROSS RENTAL INCOME
852.9 917.9 732.5 792.0
Other retail properties 15.0 18.0 15.0 18.0
TOTAL
GROSS RENTAL INCOME
867.8 935.9 747.5 810.0
Management, administrative and related income (fees) 50.7 61.2 46.9 58.5
TOTAL REVENUES 918.5 997.1 794.4 868.6
Equity-accounted investees* 60.5 63.2 58.1 60.4

* Contributions from equity-accounted investees include investments in jointly controlled companies and investments in companies under significant influence.

collection rate(a)

  Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 9M 2020
France-Belgium 97.0% 44.8% 92.0% 78.1%
Italy 92.8% 36.0% 85.7% 72.3%
Scandinavia 97.4% 94.3% 96.5% 96.1%
Iberia 97.1% 51.3% 86.8% 78.3%
CE & Other 94.4% 84.6% 79.6% 85.3%
Netherlands 99.6% 77.6% 92.5% 90.1%
Germany 98.3% 54.1% 92.6% 82.1%
TOTAL SHOPPING CENTERS 96.4% 56.8% 90.2% 81.7%
Other retail properties 98.3% 44.3% 91.2% 78.9%
TOTAL 96.4% 56.6% 90.3% 81.7%

(a) As of October 20, 2020, on a total share basis, excluding VAT and equity-accounted companies.

AGENDA  
February 3, 2021 2020 full-year earnings
May 6, 2021 Annual General Meeting
Investor relations contacts media contacts
Hubert d’Aillières, Group Head of IR and financial communication
+33 (0)1 40 67 51 37 — hubert.daillieres@klepierre.com
Mengxing Zhang, IR Officer
+33 (0)1 40 67 53 05 — mengxing.zhang@klepierre.com
Paul Logerot, IR Officer
+33 (0) 1 40 67 53 02 — paul.logerot@klepierre.com
Helene Salmon, Group Head of Corporate
& Internal Communications
+33 (0)1 40 67 55 16 — helene.salmon@klepierre.com

Delphine Granier, Taddeo
+33 (0)6 33 05 48 50— teamklepierre@taddeo.fr

ABOUT KLÉPIERRE

Klépierre, the European leader in shopping malls, combines development, property and asset management skills. The company’s portfolio is valued at €22.8 billion at June 30, 2020 and comprises large shopping centers in 12 countries in Continental Europe which together host 1.1 billion visits per year. Klépierre holds a controlling stake in Steen & Strøm (56.1%), Scandinavia’s number one shopping center owner and manager. Klépierre is a French REIT (SIIC) listed on Euronext Paris and is included in the CAC Next 20, EPRA Euro Zone and GPR 250 indexes. It is also included in ethical indexes, such as DJSI World and Europe, FTSE4Good, STOXX® Global ESG Leaders, Euronext Vigeo France 20 and World 120. These distinctions underscore the Group’s commitment to a proactive sustainable development policy and its global leadership in the fight against climate change.
For more information, please visit the newsroom on our website: www.klepierre.com

This press release is available in the “Publications section” of Klépierre’s Finance page: www.klepierre.com/en/finance/publications


([1])  The data disclosed in this release, including those set out in the appendices, have not been audited.

([2])  Change in retailer sales on a same store basis, excluding closure days.

([3])  Excluding VAT.

([4])  All collection rates are as of October 20, 2020.

  • PR_KLEPIERRE_2020_Q3_BUSINESS REVIEW_VF

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