The first half of 2004 saw a continuation of Liberty International’s strong performance of recent years. Profit before taxation amounted to £67.2 million, with an underlying 14.8% increase excluding exceptional profits. Net asset value per share increased 6% to 961p, providing a total combined return of 7.5% for the six month period.
Donald Gordon, Chairman of Liberty International, commented: 'Reflecting the weight of investor demand in the direct property market, our overall investment property revaluation surplus for the first half year amounted to £166 million. £108 million
came from UK regional shopping centres and the balance of £58 million from the group’s other retail and commercial assets in the UK and USA.
On 30 June 2004, total property assets amounted to over £5.2 billion and shareholders’ funds have passed the £3 billion mark. Regional shopping centres amount to 81% by market value of aggregate investment properties with retail property overall amounting to 91%. Our strategy of focussing on large scale premium assets of the highest quality and scarcity value, while maintaining at all times a strong financial position, should provide shareholderswith considerable confidence in the long-term sustainability of our highly successful business.
For the immediate future, our revenue growth prospects are underpinned by the forthcoming cycle of five year rent reviews which specifically involves our three largest regional shopping centres, Braehead, Glasgow, in the last quarter of 2004, Lakeside, Thurrock, in 2005 and MetroCentre, Gateshead, in 2006, where in each case we expect major recent initiatives to produce very positive rental growth.
Our substantial development programme positions Liberty International to continue our longterm track record of measured growth. Some £280 million of committed project expenditure remains to be spent, primarily on the Red Mall at MetroCentre and Chapelfield Shopping Centre, Norwich, where lettings are in both cases well advanced. In addition, potential but as yet uncommitted projects amount in aggregate to around a further £1 billion.”
Source: Liberty International