British Land Buys Mayfair Estate

LONDON -- British Land (ISE: BLND.L) today announced the purchase of the Clarges Estate in London's affluent Piccadilly area for 129.6 million pounds, adding to its expanding presence in the West End and City.

The move was revealed following a strong trading report from the FTSE 100 property landlord. As my Foolish colleague Karl Loomes pointed out earlier this month, British Land "owns a good mix of retail assets, housing projects, and office developments." The diverse nature of its properties has led to a decent performance compared to many of its rivals, with retail footfall reported as 0.5% positive, while the market benchmark is down 2.4%.

The interim management statement also announced a further 85,000 square feet of development pre-lets and a total of 650,000 square feet of lettings and lease extensions.

Shareholders were also cheered by news that the first-quarter dividend was confirmed at 6.6 pence, 1.5% ahead of the prior year. The share price remained fairly static this morning, having risen 1.33% to 532 pence at the time of writing.

Chris Grigg, chief executive, commented:

I am very pleased with our performance in the last period, achieved in the context of a tough economic environment. ... We are delighted to announce today the purchase of the Clarges Estate in Piccadilly, an important mixed used development opportunity in the heart of Mayfair. This acquisition will further enhance our presence in the West End and underlines the benefits of our size and scale.

Investors are waiting for the property boom, and interestingly, rival property company Hammerson (ISE: HMSO.L) recently reported strong results, too. British Land appears to be in a good position if you want to get in before the sector takes off again -- if it takes off again, that is.

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