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Announcement:

Moody's changes outlook for Japan real estate industry to stable

Global Credit Research - 13 Sep 2010

Tokyo, September 13, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has changed to stable from negative its outlook for Japan's real estate industry for the coming 12-18 months, as announced in its latest report on the industry.

Moody's rating universe for the industry comprises five Japanese real estate companies and 18 real estate trusts (J-REITs).

The change in outlook reflects Moody's view that Japan's economy is now recovering gradually (following the contraction in 2009) and that the real estate industry will bottom out soon.

Office vacancy rates in central Tokyo, which have been rising since 2008, are about to peak, and the pace of decline in asking rents is slowing down.

Given a recovery in demand, any further significant deterioration in the office leasing market is unlikely, although Moody's considers it too early to expect a strong improvement in the market, as the substantial office supply that will be available in 2011-2012 may prevent a rapid decline in vacancy rates.

The office leasing markets in cities outside the major metropolises are also showing signs of bottoming, although demand in these regions is recovering more slowly.

With regard to the retail property market, despite the tight job market and stagnant wages, the decline in personal consumption and retail sales seem to be touching bottom, although the competitiveness gap for retail properties may further expand. Occupancy rates and rents are improving in the residential leasing market.

The condo market had been devastated by a decline in demand stemming from the deterioration in the economy, but tax incentives and low interest rates have improved demand in metropolitan areas and helped stabilize prices.

The number of transactions in the real estate investment market is low because of the decline in real estate prices, but the influx of investment money from overseas, especially from Asia, and the improvement in both the lending market from financial institutions and funding environment should gradually lead to growth in transactions.

Despite uncertainty over the pace of the economic recovery (due to the slowdown in other developed countries and the strength of the yen), Japan's economy is unlikely to experience another contraction over the coming 12-18 months that would lead to further deterioration in its real estate market.

Moody's has taken a number of negative rating actions on the major rated Japanese real estate companies over the last year, as leverage had risen significantly due to debt-funded investments during the peak of the last real estate cycle in 2008. In addition, the economic recession pressured the earnings of their office leasing and condo sales businesses.

However, with market conditions stabilizing, future rating actions will depend on how fast each issuer can restore its earnings and balance sheet.

Moody's has also taken a number of negative rating actions on its rated J-REITs since 2008, not just because of aggressive, debt-funded investments, which have raised leverage and pressured leasing revenue (similarly to the major rated Japanese real estate companies), but also because of the deterioration in the funding environment (due to the financial crisis).

With the establishment of the Real Estate Stabilization Fund, money flows to the J-REIT sector have improved gradually, and the funding environment -- in the form of both public offerings and bond issuance -- continues to improve, allowing issuers to expand their assets. In addition, an increasing number of J-REITs are trying to grow their portfolios through mergers or new investments, and the flexibility of leverage management is increasing as a result of asset sales and new stock issuance.

Thus, ratings will stabilize for those J-REITs that can improve their revenues from the portfolios and their financials -- particularly their leverage.

The report, "Industry Outlook: Japan's Real Estate Industry," is available at www.moodys.co.jp (in Japanese only).

Tokyo
Shinsuke Tanimoto
Senior Vice President - Team Leader
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Tokyo
Tetsuji Takenouchi
Senior Vice President - Team Leader
Structured Finance Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Moody's Japan K.K.
Atago Green Hills Mori Tower 20fl
2-5-1 Atago, Minato-ku
Tokyo 105-6220
Japan

Moody's changes outlook for Japan real estate industry to stable
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