New deal for British Land: Property portfolio to be offered as partnership with Soros

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The Independent Online
BRITISH LAND, the property company which has a pounds 1bn partnership with George Soros' Quantum Fund, has increased its portfolio with the purchase of 167 properties from Royal Insurance.

British Land is paying pounds 120m in cash with a further two million shares. The portfolio has a rental income of pounds 10.8m a year, putting the yield at 8.2 per cent based on yesterday's price of British Land shares of 409p, down 1p.

The portfolio will be offered to the Quantum Fund partnership, which is likely to accept. That puts the amount spent since the partnership was formed last June at more than pounds 300m. A detailed statement of purchases made so far is expected later this week, when a number of other deals may also be announced.

The most high-profile purchase cost pounds 5m for a 29.9 per cent stake in Stanhope, the company which owns half of the Broadgate development in London's Liverpool Street.

The co-owner, Rosehaugh Estates, is in receivership and John Ritblat, British Land's chairman, plans to participate in any restructuring with the aim of taking control of Broadgate and the groups' other City development, Ludgate.

Stuart Lipton, Stanhope's chairman, is contesting the purchase in the courts, claiming he has pre- emption rights over the shares.

Half the portfolio purchased yesterday is in the south of England and 10 per cent in Scotland, with the remainder in the Midlands, northern England and Wales.

John Weston Smith, British Land's finance director, said the properties were almost completely let. He added that the 8.2 per cent yield, higher than many recent purchases, reflected the fact that most of the properties were small. 'We like this sort of mix,' he added.

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