Shaftesbury keen to buy after slump

THE LONDON landlord Shaftesbury reported a fall in the value of its property last year, but forecast improving demand and more acquisitions.<br /><br />Shaftesbury, which owns more than 450 properties focused in the West End, said its portfolio was worth &pound;1.21bn at the end of September, down 3.8 per cent against a year ago after falls earlier in the year.<br /><br />The group expects strong demand for West End shops, restaurants and apartments next year, after the value of its properties bounced back 7.1 per cent in the second half.<br /><br />Shaftesbury said demand for space in the capital&rsquo;s shopping and leisure district has held up throughout the year despite the slump.<br /><br />It raised &pound;150m through a rights issue in May to buy cut-price property and voiced confidence about its ability to snap up more assets.<br /><br />It made &pound;29.8m worth of acquisitions in the year to September 2009, and has a further &pound;213.8m of unused bank facilities.<br /><br />&ldquo;The levels at which we let our restaurants, shops and apartments have been absolutely consistent for the last three or four years, and if anything I think it might improve in the next year,&rdquo; chief executive Jonathan Lane said.<br /><br />Major UK landlords Land Securities and British Land last month called an end to commercial property&rsquo;s two-year slump, while October values jumped the most in nearly four years.<br /><br />JPMorgan property analyst Harm Meijer said:&ldquo;Opportunities have opened up particularly for quality names like Shaftesbury.&rdquo;