British Land resumes dividend but warns of more hit from virus crisis, Brexit jitters

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(Reuters) – British Land (L:) resumed dividend payments and outlined some property sales that have supported its financial position, while warning of more pain in the office and retail sectors due to Brexit uncertainties and the coronavirus pandemic.

In the last set of results under Chief Executive Officer Chris Grigg, British Land on Wednesday posted a near 30% drop in underlying profit to 107 million pounds for the six months ended Sept. 30. Loss after tax ballooned to 730 million pounds from 404 million pounds a year earlier.

“Our first-half results naturally reflect the challenges in retail. Against this backdrop, we remain focused on active asset management, working to maximise rent collection and keeping our units occupied with successful retailers,” said incoming CEO Simon Carter.

The real estate firm said it had sold the Clarges building in Mayfair at 7.6% over its book value along with a handful of other properties and had 1 billion pounds in undrawn credit available.

The company, which owns properties including Broadgate in London and Meadowhall shopping centre in Yorkshire, has grappled with a series of rent deferrals and cancellations as its tenants struggle to make payments in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Restrictions on movements to stem the spread of infections have forced most people to stop visiting their offices and opt working from home, while retailers are grappling with a lack of income as the global health crisis has accelerated a shift to online shopping.

“More operators have entered CVA or administration and stronger retailers have been more cautious on committing to new space… Retailers are increasingly focused on how best to align their models to the growth of online,” the company said.

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