PLC () has resumed dividend payments even though the property giant remained deep in the red in its latest half-year.
In his final statement, departing chief executive Chris Grigg said even though it was facing many challenges due to COVID-19, the company’s financial position and strong rental collection from its office portfolio had given it the confidence to resume payments.
suspended its dividend in March when the initial lockdown came into force but announced a payment of 8.4p today.
Results for the half-year to end September showed more scars from COVID-19 with losses of £404mln (£730mln) reflecting a £625mln property value write-down.
Underlying profits fell by 39% to £107mln, which included a £44mln write-off for rent provisions while net assets per share dropped 10.3% to 693p
British Land said it had received 97% of rents due from its offices in the quarter to September, though retail was running at 62% collections.
Incoming chief executive Simon Carter said its office tenants were taking a long term view of the situation and looking through Covid ‘to acquire prime London offices at pricing close to pre-pandemic levels’.
“Many of our customers have seen that their people can work more flexibly, but they are clear that great office space, such as we deliver at our mixed-use campuses, will continue to play a crucial role in their success, by promoting innovation, collaboration, training and culture.”
Retail was more difficult but Carter said there is a clear preference from shoppers and retailers for out of town, open-air retail parks.
British Land will also continue to streamline its portfolio, he added, and today announced the sale of the Clarges development in Mayfair in London for £177mln or 7.6% above its valuation in September.
Since April, British Land has now sold property worth £675mln. At the end of September, the FTSE 100 group had £1bn undrawn cash facilities and said it has no requirement to refinance until 2024.