Tesco plans to refinance up to £2bn more of its property than planned over the next five years, which should double the amount returned to shareholders to £3bn. The Times. The Guardian. Financial Times

Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco chief executive, said that, while Tesco wanted to retain the freehold on at least 70% of its properties, to maintain long-term strategic strength', there was 'hidden value' in its property portfolio, estimating that it was worth £28bn, 65% more than its £17bn book value.

'It’s a substantial store of value and it’s appropriate we release some of that,' said Leahy.

A year ago Tesco announced plans to raise £5bn by refinancing its property assets, and to return £1.5bn of that to shareholders.

Yesterday Tesco announced a 10.9% rise in sales to £46.6bn and profits of £2.54bn.

The supermarket group operates 3,250 stores worldwide, 2,000 of which are in the UK, and plans to open 559 new outlets in the next 12 months.