British Land said it had made a ‘resilient’ start to the year, in spite of the weak financial markets and economic slowdown.

In an AGM statement, the company said it expected earnings for the first quarter to 30 June to be ahead of the 14p a share posted in the previous quarter. This means earnings will either be flat or ahead of the equivalent period in 2007, when earnings were 14p a share.

It said that a dividend of 9.4p a share was likely to be announced for the quarter, a 7% increase on 2007.

British Land said it had sold £669m of property in the quarter, including the £400m sale of the Willis building in the City of London to St Martins, the property arm of the Kuwait government.

It said it had completed 352,000 sq ft of new lettings during the period, 87% of which were in the retail sector, 13% in the office sector.

Chairman Chris Gibson-Smith was cautious about the short-term outlook for the market.

‘Investment markets remain volatile reflecting broader financial market repricing and uncertainty and the resultant deleveraging effects,’ he said.

‘Increasing investor interest in UK commercial property at these lower pricing levels is evident, but still patchy. There are few who fail to see value in sector share prices but many too focused on the near-term newsflow.’

British Land shares fell 1.8% to 670p, a slightly greater drop than the 1.6% fall in the FTSE-100.

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