British Land welcomes setback in bond market

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THE RECENT setback in the bond markets has prevented the property market overheating, John Ritblat, chairman of British Land, said yesterday, writes Heather Connon.

The property market is heavily influenced by the return on government securities and other long- term bonds. Gilt prices had been rising sharply - and their yields falling - for much of last year and the early part of 1994, pulling the property market in its wake. In the past few months the trend has reversed and there has been concern that it could threaten the recovery in property.

But Mr Ritblat said: 'The bond market setback has had a helpful and salutary effect on the property market. In February, the market was beginning to get a bit over-excited, now it is in a more balanced state.' Many deals were still being proposed to the group, but they were 'much more reasonably priced' than they had been.

British Land yesterday announced a 46 per cent rise in net assets to 423p a share as the underlying value of its portfolio rose 21 per cent to pounds 2.6bn. Profits in the year to March almost doubled to pounds 53.9m

Earnings per share rose 36 per cent to 11.7p and the final dividend is increased by 7.5 per cent to 5.08p, for a total of 7.53p (7p).

The group spent pounds 615m on property during the year.

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