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Land Securities sees portfolio nosedive

Britain’s biggest property company Land Securities has illustrated the sheer depth of the slump in the nation’s property market, today revealing the value of its portfolio fell by £4.74 billion in the year to end-March.

The 34.2 per cent fall saw the value of its investment properties slashed to £7.93 billion.

In its preliminary results, out today, the group reported a pre-tax loss of £4.77 billion for the period, reflecting what it described as an “unprecedented” set of market conditions.

Group chief executive Francis Salway said: “We recognise that this has been the year when there’s been the sharpest falls in value on record for UK commercial property, and we’ve not been immune to that. And because valuation change now flows through to our pre-tax profit or loss, that has resulted in us announcing a substantial loss.”

But, following the sale of Trillium, Mr Salway said the company was now focuses on its two strongest businesses – retail and London offices.

It said gross rental income across the two divisions rose by £14.3 million pounds for the year, despite the amount of empty space in its properties rising from 3.5 per cent to 4.6 per cent.

The group said it had also been bolstered by £1.1 billion worth of asset sales and its £756 million rights issue earlier this year.

Land Securities completed more than 110,000 sq m of development in 2008/09, which at year’s end was 72 per cent let.