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Loss for Land Securities as sales mooted

LAND Securities, Britain&rsquo;s largest property company, reported a record &pound;4.77bn loss yesterday, signalling the extent to which the UK property market has imploded.<br /><br />The firm saw the value of its investment portfolio plummet by 34.2 per cent to &pound;7.93bn, amid what the company described as &ldquo;unprecedented&rdquo; market conditions.<br /><br />Chief executive Francis Salway said: &ldquo;This has been the year when there&rsquo;s been the sharpest falls in value on record for UK commercial property, and we&rsquo;ve not been immune to that.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Because valuation change now flows through to our pre-tax profit or loss, that has resulted in us announcing a substantial loss,&rdquo; he added.<br /><br />The company has seen&nbsp;the proportion of its rental space standing empty rise to 4.6 per cent from 3.5 per cent last year and Salway said he expected further strife in the rental market this year. Land Securities, formerly chaired by City minister Lord Myners, has taken evasive action to arrest the 60 per cent slump in its share price suffered in the past year.<br /><br />It raised &pound;756m with a rights issue in March last year and has sold &pound;1.1bn worth of assets, including its property services unit Trillium, for which the group netted &pound;444m. KBC Peel Hunt analyst Keith Crawford said yesterday that the company would need to continue selling assets as its rights issue had not been enough to recommence investing. Its shares closed down 35.5p at 503.5p.&nbsp;