Land Securities heads Reits push

Land Securities, Britain's largest property company, was yesterday among a number of companies which declared themselves keen to convert their structure to the new tax-advantageous real estate investment trusts (Reits) proposed by Gordon Brown's Pre-Budget Report on Wednesday.

Ian Henderson, the chief executive of Land Securities, said: "We think it makes sense and it would bring a lot more equity into the business."

South-east-based property developer Brixton also threw its weight behind Reits. Steven Owen, the deputy chief executive, said: "We have been closely involved in this process and it looks like a very good idea."

Goldman Sachs upgraded Liberty International and British Land to reflect the positive effect the Reits structure would have on their profitability. Separately JP Morgan said Canary Wharf group, which Morgan Stanley is trying to take private, ought not to be delisted because "it could be in high demand as a Reit".

Reits have been heavily lobbied for by property companies as a way to attract more money from institutions and private individuals into the sector.

The vehicles have already become very popular in other countries such as America and France and are widely credited with boosting the construction industries in both countries.

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, said a consultation would now be held about launching the trusts here, probably in 2005.

Under the terms of the scheme, property companies will be able to package themselves within the new investment trust wrapper, lightening their tax burden in the long term and making it easy for large and small investors to pour cash into the development of real estate.

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