British Land sees asset values jump to almost £10bn

Kasmira Jefford
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BRITISH Land, one of the country’s biggest landlords, saw the value of its assets rise as it made more acquisitions and pressed ahead with its £1.1bn office development pipeline that includes the Cheesegrater skyscraper in east London.

The property developer said its portfolio value increased by 1.5 per cent to £9.9bn during the quarter, with office values up 3.7 per cent and retail up 0.4 per cent.

Underlying pre-tax profit rose to £65m, in the three months ended 30 June, from £64m a year earlier, the company said in a statement.

“We do expect the British consumer to remain under pressure for some time” said chief executive Chris Grigg in a news conference, adding that the situation “appears to have worsened in recent months”.

Despite the gloomy retail sector, Grigg said British Land was ”disproportionately exposed to those more successful retailers.”

Occupancy across the company’s London-centric office portfolio was 97.8 per cent, while in its retail book occupancy was 98.7 per cent.

Grigg said the group plans to add 2.2m square feet of office space by 2014 in central London, where a shortage of space is driving up rents.

The company has made £326m of acquisitions since March – including 17 Virgin Active sports centres and an office development in Maidenhead – which it said will help boost its rental income.

British Land will maintain a quarterly dividend of 6.5p a share. The group closed down 2.6 per cent at 563p.