Arabian Centres Company (ACC) will be distributing cash dividend worth 237.5 million Saudi riyals ($63 million) to its shareholders as its financial position has improved despite market disruptions due to COVID-19.

The Saudi Arabia-based mall operator, which earlier incurred a 20 percent slump in net profit partly due to the health crisis, made the announcement after it gained a $9.7 million windfall from Amlak International for Real Estate Finance IPO early this month. The IPO attracted more than 266,000 retail subscribers.

In a bourse filing on Tuesday, the company said the dividend distribution is mainly supported by its “sound financial position.”

“The company’s board of directors made the decision to distribute [the] dividend… to reflect ACC’s commitment to generate decent returns to its shareholders,” said the company.

The company that owns 19 malls in the kingdom has around 1 billion riyals in cash at the close of the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2020. Prior to the public offering, ACC’s stake in Amlak accounted for 8.4 percent of the capital, with an investment value of 122.4 million riyals.

“The expected cash proceeds of the IPO is 36.7 million riyals before deducting the IPO expenses,” ACC said.

The company also reported that its receivables collection has improved and that, following “positive negotiations” with its landlords, it expects to make some “good savings” that will alleviate the negative impact of the pandemic.

ACC had earlier confirmed that the pandemic has impacted its business. On March 16, it temporarily shut down all of its shopping centres across the kingdom as part of the government’s precautionary measures to stem the spread of coronavirus.

In June this year, ACC reported a 642.6 million riyals in net profit for the year ended March 31, 2020, down 20.1 percent from the previous year.

“Arabian Centres’ results were materially impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic during the period. Shopping centres house a high concentration of public-facing institutions and activities, and are frequently required to cease operations when authorities assess an ongoing risk to public health,” ACC had said.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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