(Bloomberg) -- Shares in Home REIT Plc plunged after Viceroy Research published a report that made a series of allegations about the financial health and governance of the UK social housing landlord.
The short-seller published a 27-page report Wednesday highlighting a series of alleged risks. The issues raised include queries about the company’s receivables, the quality and diversity of its major tenants and outsourced management arrangements.
Home REIT said Viceroy didn’t engage with the company before issuing its report, according to a statement Wednesday.
“The report is inaccurate and misleading in its comments about the company, being based on mistaken assumptions, misinformed comments, and disputable allegations,” Home REIT said in the statement. “The company will publish a full and detailed response demonstrating the factual inaccuracies and selective use of information in due course.”
Home REIT dropped as much as 31% in London trading, the most on record.
Read more: UK Housing Crisis Sparks Investor Bet on Homeless Accommodation
The UK’s social housing crisis has prompted a rush of private sector investment into the sector, with investors lured by inflation-linked, long-term leases and non-profit renters that are backstopped by the government. Home REIT, which floated in 2020 and had a market value of about £580 million before the report was published, is managed by investment boutique Alvarium Investments.
The company says it aims to alleviate homelessness in the UK, while also achieving inflation-protected income and capital returns.
The country’s social housing regulator has been monitoring the sector, focusing on the long-term leases that lock in charities and housing providers for years, Bloomberg News reported in August. Critics have previously also flagged concerns about the quality and suitability of accommodation for vulnerable tenants.
Civitas Social Housing, another social landlord, has drawn scrutiny from short-sellers over its funding model, allegations it denies.
Among the allegations leveled by Viceroy against Home REIT include questions about a lack of impairments recorded on the company’s receivables. Some tenants are behind on their rent and the ability of the landlord to recover these unpaid bills will impact the company’s portfolio valuation, Viceroy said in its report.
It also focused on the management arrangement between Alvarium and Home REIT, whereby the former is allegedly paid fees based on a percentage of the company’s net asset value. External management arrangements are common in UK real estate but have been criticized for the potential to create conflicts of interest, with management teams incentivized to grow assets under management rather than focus on performance.
The report accuses Alvarium of acquiring some Home REIT properties at inflated prices to boost the net asset value of its portfolio.
Perring was one of the earliest critics of Wirecard AG, a German payment company, but he has also stirred controversy. Viceroy was fined by South Africa’s regulator last year for publishing a misleading report on Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd.
(Updates with comment from the company in the third and fourth paragraphs and share price move in the fifth paragraph)
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