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BIRMINGHAM, AL-Despite the continued downward movement of many of income and balance sheet numbers, Colonial Property Trust executives contend the company is headed in the right direction with initiatives launched in early 2009. The highlights of the quarter included a continuation of financing and note repurchasing, as well as extrication from a number of joint ventures.

The Q2 number include a net loss to common shareholders of just under $2 million per diluted share, compared to net income of just over $9 million to shareholders at the same time last year. Operating FFO came in at $15.8 million, again, a drop from last year’s figure of $27.3 million.

Thomas H. Lowder, Colonial Properties’ chairman and CEO said the four main initiatives of the company – strengthening the balance sheet, improving liquidity, reducing overhead and phasing developments in the pipeline – have been enormously successful. Thanks to the repurchase of $315.5 million worth of outstanding unsecured senior notes, the balance sheet is getting a decent boost, though “asset sales remain challenging in this environment,” Lowder acknowledged.

In terms of addressing liquidity, closing on $156 million in new secured loans from Fannie Mae received during Q2 has helped the company reach, and exceed, its initial 2009 proposed total goal of $500 million. The loans, Lowder explained, will be used to eliminate debt that will mature in 2010 and 2011; he pointed out that approximately $44 million of the 2010 maturities were eliminated with the loans.

Overhead has been reduced by $2 million for the year, with help from eliminating positions in development and construction, consolidating office space and negotiating terms with vendors.

And finally, Colonial Properties has pulled far back from any type of serious development. Lowder estimated there was between $35 million and $40 million of construction in the pipeline in 2009, with only two multifamily and commercial assets under construction. In the meantime, the company was able to transfer its remaining 15% minority joint venture interest in the 220,000-square-foot Colonial Pinnacle Craft Farms I in Gulf Shores, AL to its majority joint venture partner. In turn, Colonial Properties will develop a 67,700-square-foot phase, to be anchored by a 45,600-square-foot Publix Supermarket. The $10 million project will be completed during Q2 2010.

The focus on the initiatives, Lowder said, is to help in a variety of areas, one of which is a positive presentation to the rating agencies that haven’t been too friendly to the REIT in recent months. But more importantly, focus on the initiatives now will put Colonial Properties in a decent position when the economy turns around.

“I think we’re making great progress,” Lowder said. “And knock on wood, we’ll continue to have great activity.”

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