British Land ups its dividend on upbeat outlook

 
Kasmira Jefford
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BRITISH Land, the property giant behind the Cheesegrater skyscraper in the City, has raised its dividend in a display of confidence as the economy shows signs of improving.

The UK’s second largest listed property firm said yesterday it is raising its quarterly dividend by 2.3 per cent to 6.75p and 27p for the year, “reflecting confidence in future cashflows”.

In a bullish first quarter trading update, chief executive Chris Grigg said: “The economy as a whole is showing some signs of returning confidence, London remains strong and while retail is still challenging, we continue to see encouraging levels of demand for our space.”

In March it raised close to £1bn to help fund London developments after tapping investors for nearly £500m via a share placing and selling Ropemaker Place for £472m.

The company has spent £512m since the start of the year on acquisitions, including seizing a major stake in Paddington Central, an offices and shops complex, for £470m.

The deal helped the company shift its portfolio further away from the City – where tenant demand has been more subdued since the financial crisis – to the upmarket West End.

It also bolstered British Land’s development pipeline to over 1.4m square feet, at a time when many of its projects are on the verge of completion.

The group said rising tenant demand was mainly confined to its London offices, with rents signed at 5.3 per cent ahead of estimated values.