Grosvenor’s net asset value fell just 7.4% last year, reflecting a resilient financial performance compared to rivals due to low debt and a diverse portfolio.

The Duke of Westminster’s international property group said its net asset value had slipped from £3.1bn in 2007 to £2.8bn while it produced a relatively robust -4.1% return on its properties last year.

Without favourable currency movements of £1.9bn across its portfolio, the property return would have been -8.6%.

The group was hit by £1.3bn property writedowns across the whole portfolio, including funds managed by Grosvenor, which caused the group to make a pretax loss of £593.9m, compared with a profit of £524m in 2007.

Most notably, Liverpool One, the mixed-use city centre scheme which covers 42 acres and opened last year, saw its forth writedown last year of £165m due to rising property yields.

This knocked Grosvenor’s revenue profit – the measure of its underlying performance – to a revenue loss of £76.7m.

The value of total assets under management fell by 2.3% from £12.9bn to £12.6bn - of this, £8.4bn is wholly-owned and £4.2bn is fund managed.

Its fund management business, Grosvenor Fund Management, grew its funds under management from £3.1bn to £4.2bn last year.

The group has cash and undrawn committed facilities of £523m which it intends to use to take advantage of the buying opportunities emerging from the downturn.

The group’s exposure to development dropped from 24.5% in 2007, and 28.2% the year before, to 15% reflecting its early reaction to the deterioration of the market.

Mark Preston, who took over as chief executive from Jeremy Newsum in July, said: ‘This is a challenging time for the property industry and inevitably Grosvenor has been affected. But the impact has been cushioned by our well-diversified portfolio, low gearing [26%], and steps taken since 2007 to curb acquisitions and reduce our development exposure.’