British Land and Hammerson, two of Britain’s biggest diversified property companies, have both signalled they will not follow Land Securities’ decision to split up. Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, The Times
British Land is ready to delve into a £2bn war chest to pounce on an expected flurry of distressed property sellers.
Stephen Hester, chief executive of British Land, said the board regularly reviewed capital structures but there was no overwhelming case for such a move. Hammerson has also defended its existing shape.
Hester said demerging British Land’s retail and office portfolios was not necessarily the solution. “The share price reaction to Land Securities shows there is not a clear answer and that each company must do what they see fit,” he said.
Rents grew 4.2% in the half year, which helped offset a rise in the portfolio’s equivalent yield by 21 basis points to 4.9%. The valuation of Meadowhall, the flagship shopping centre in Sheffield, was cut by 4.8% to £1.58bn after failing to attract a buyer in the summer.
Underlying profits were £143m (£130m). The company reiterated that it had fixed its debt at an industry low of 5.3 per cent.
British Land shares closed down 38½p, or 4%, at 912p. Land Securities fell 45p, or 3%, to £15 and Hammerson dropped 24p, or 2.3%, to 999p.