The Great Debate UK

British Land’s prime play


REUTERS– Margaret Doyle is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are her own –

Sir John Ritblat, founder of British Land, was a believer in “buy and hold.” Fortunately for shareholders, Stephen Hester, brought in as chief executive ahead of Ritblat’s retirement in 2006, took a more active view of asset management.

He shifted almost 7 billion pounds-worth of property off the books over 3 years before shifting himself to RBS. The Broadgate Centre remains, but is for sale at the right price. Foreign buyers, lured in by cheaper sterling, might like to take a look.

Chris Grigg, Hester’s replacement, says nearly all of its property has been let, including the massive development at Ropemaker Place in the City of London. However, the two Japanese banks who signed up will enjoy four years rent free, which puts the headline rent of 47 pounds per square foot into perspective.