The Investment Column: British Land

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The Independent Online
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SHARES IN British Land, the UK's second-largest property bsiness, have achieved qite a feat this year by nderperforming the already bombed- ot property sector.

The City has qestioned whether John Ritblat, the chairman, overpaid for Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre. There is also some concern over the scope for raising rents in the City of London.

Bt the shares received a welcome boost yesterday as attention was trned to the grop's better-than-expected disposal proceeds of ponds 184m in the first six months of the crrent year.

On the downside, rental growth of 21 per cent was bang in line with the market's expectations, and the grop is now 125 per cent geared after spending ponds 1.34bn on property in the period.

The grop is nworried by the prospect of City of London rents falling as development at Canary Wharf brings in new capacity, and it is contining to develop prime sites. Meanwhile, there is scope to increase retail rents, which lag well behind those otside the UK.

Analysts expect pre-tax profits of ponds 152m in the fll year, and a net asset vale of 695p. The shares are too cheap.

Edited by Chris Hghes

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