British Land in £1bn of deals to build warchest

Kasmira Jefford
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BRITISH Land raised almost £1bn yesterday to help fund London developments as it tapped investors for close to £500m via a share placing and announced it has sold Ropemaker Place in the City for £472m.

The landlord successfully placed 89.7m new ordinary shares at 550p each, representing 9.99 per cent of its existing share capital. Of the £493m raised, it will use £213m to fund recent acquisitions, including its purchase of Ealing Broadway shopping centre, and another £150m for deals in advanced negotiations.

Chief executive Chris Grigg said the placing will allow British Land to take advantage of the increasing number of deals it has seen coming onto the market in its key office and retail sectors in recent months. “Our focus is on London offices and south east retail where we are seeing disproportional opportunities,” he added.

British Land placed the shares via a cash box, a financing structure that allows a firm to issue new shares by bypassing pre-emption requirements – meaning without shareholder approval – provided they are issued for a non-cash consideration.

But Grigg said yesterday that the placing had been well-received by shareholders: “We have got a lot of interest and a lot of confirmation from shareholders that this is the kind of thing they want us to do.

The property developer also said yesterday it has sold the 593,000 square foot Ropemaker Place office block to a consortium led by Axa Real Estate and including two Asian investors. One of them is thought to be Gingko Tree Investment, the London-registered Chinese state-owned fund.

Grigg said the sale to overseas buyers highlighted “how important London is on the world stage”.

Shares in the firm closed down 4.39 per cent at 555p.



THE SUDDEN surge of activity among firms has seen some of the City’s most prominent dealmakers back in the spotlight as advisers line up to run the books for their FTSE 100 clients. British Land’s joint bookrunner UBS put up a team including Simon Warshaw, the ex co-head of its advisory business who was moved to a corporate client solutions role by new investment bank boss Andrea Orcel, while Goldman Sachs was represented by Anthony Gutman, the bank’s rising star who made partner last year, along with Philip Shelley and David Matheson. Morgan Stanley also joined the line-up, with Jonathan Lane, Nick White and Bill Hutchings as joint bookrunner and joint corporate broker. The same three banks also lined up on RBS’s stake sale of Direct Line.