British Land gets property value boosts

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The Independent Online

Commercial property group British Land yesterday hailed a strengthening UK commercial property market when it said that its property values had jumped by 8.2 per cent in the three months to the end of December.

The group, which owns a number of high profile office and retail sites, said that its net asset value, the key measurement of value in the property sector, had risen by 18 per cent on September.

British Land's results reflect a stronger performance in the commercial property market in the last six months, after dramatic falls last year as investors baulked at the sector in the wake of the recession.

"Our third-quarter performance saw a continued recovery with strong valuation growth right across the portfolio," said chief executive Chris Grigg.

News of the improved valuations will buoy taxpayer supported banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, which are battling to cut property impairments after a 45 per cent plunge in values between June 2007 and August 2009.

Nonetheless, fears remain that the sector remains fragile. Speaking at the super returns conference in Berlin, Leon Black, the founder of Apollo Management said there would likely be a "bonanza" for distressed debt investors in the sector.

"A lot of the sources of capital [for commercial real estate] have failed," he said. "So if you have capital there are things you will be able to pick off."

A number of analysts are concerned that property values have spiked in recent months, helped by the Government's reflationary measures, such as quantitative easing. The removal of the state backing could lead to weakening once more, they warn.