Shares in Liberty International rose 12p to 1302p after it reported stronger than expected annual results this morning.

The value of its portfolio, which consists mainly of UK regional shopping centres, rose 7.3% to £8.18bn in the year to December 31 – trumping forecasts which suggested Liberty would under-perform following six months of difficult retail trading conditions.

Adjusted net asset value rose 12% to 1327p a share while pre-tax profits, including the proceeds from investment sales, soared 71% £903m. Rental income enjoyed a 13% boost to £341m on the back of an intensive tenant management programme which saw occupancy at Liberty’s centres hit 98.6% in the last 12 months.

Liberty chairman Sir Robert Finch said the company was looking forward to the broader range of opportunities REIT status would bring, and that it faced the future with ‘confidence and with commitment.’

Highlights of the year for Liberty include the acquisition of the Coven Garden Estate for £421m and the acquisition of a 50% stake in St David’s, Cardiff for £180m.