Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HSBC Downgrades Land after Sell-Off by Ritblat

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HSBC Downgrades Land after Sell-Off by Ritblat

Article excerpt

Byline: MICKEY CLARK

JUST a day after John Ritblat, outgoing chairman of British Land, raised [pounds sterling]56.5 million by disposing of the bulk of his holding, broker HSBC has downgraded its rating on the property developer from overweight to neutral.

Shares in British Land have enjoyed a strong run this year as property companies take advantage of the tax benefits brought about by converting into real estate investment trusts. The price, which has come up from a low of 1050p, today slipped 15p to 1570p.

Ritblat, who has dominated events at British Land for the past 30 years, sold 3.5 million shares at 1615p, reducing his holding to 600,000.

HSBC has maintained its target price of 1676p, saying the shares have gained steadily and now appear to have caught up with events.

The 8% discount to net asset value had now shrunk to just 1%. The broker says this will widen again to5% when the direct property investment market begins to weaken next year. In the meantime, it believes the retail warehouse and superstore portfolios have good longterm growth prospects.

Share prices generally edged higher with the FTSE 100 index rising 11.4 at 6171.7. But with Wall Street closed this afternoon for Thanksgiving, City investors were reluctant to chase prices higher.

Cairn Energy jumped 84p to 2002p after completing the placing of shares in its subsidiary Cairn India in Mumbai. The placing of 209.67 million shares has raised [pounds sterling]430.3 million. Cairn India will be valued in total at almost $7 billion ([pounds sterling]3.7 billion). The London arm expects to raise $1.8 billion as its share of the flotation.

Car accessories and bikes seller Halfords put in another solid set of results, with first-half sales up 6.5% and ambitious expansion plans. The shares have had an erratic time since the float in 2004 at 260p, hitting peaks of 355p early this year before sliding to lows of 284p in the summer.

Today, they marked time at 340p after the company reported operating profits up 5. …

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