Chris Gibson-Smith, executive chairman of British Land, said the property company had 'seen a wide range of candidates' to replace Stephen Hester, its former chief executive who takes up his new role at Royal Bank of Scotland this month. He hoped to make an appointment before Christmas.

Gibson-Smith’s comments came as British Land reported a 22% fall in net asset value per share to £10.43 in the six months to September 30, as its portfolio fell 10.8% to £11.6bn.

The shares fell 37.5p to 506p. According to Dataexplorers 10.26% of its shares are currently borrowed – the second-highest percentage of FTSE 100 companies, suggesting the stock is heavily shorted.

Gibson-Smith said while the group was not immune to the property decline, it was 'in a position of considerable strength'. It raised its second quarter dividend 7% to 9.375p, in line with the first quarter.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph