The Mall owner stronger after disposals

Capital & Regional, owner of The Mall shopping centre in Blackburn, today reported a pre-tax profit of £46.4m in 2010 compared with loss of £113.4m in 2009 after a flurry of disposals including The Mall Preston.

Net asset value across the group rose from £129.8m at the end of 2009 to £174.5m at 31 December 2010.

C&R said it had secured an extension of The Mall bond funding for three years to 2015.

A total of 18 properties were sold during 2010 for £627.1m, generating a profit on disposal of £4.5m.

In March 2010, The Mall Preston was sold to Aviva for £87m at a yield of 7.6%. A joint venture with GE sold the MEN Arena in Manchester in June 2010 for £62.2m to Development Securities and Patron Capital Partners, at a net initial yield of 7.15%.

As a result of cash received from the disposal programme, gearing, or the group's net debt to equity ratio, reduced to 29% compared to 48% in 2009.

Operational highlights of the year include the opening of the 220,000 sq ft extension at Blackburn anchored by Primark, Next, H&M, New Look, Peacocks, JD Sports & Bank.

John Clare, chairman of C&R, said: "Whilst retailers continue to experience challenging market conditions, the operating environment has proved more resilient than anticipated. The lack of any significant supply of new shopping centres, the shift in demand from the high street to out-of-town as well as the improved quality of the Group's underlying portfolios have all contributed to an increase in demand for space, a stabilisation in rental values and a boost in underlying income."Net debt as a proportion of net asset value also reduced from 76% to 66% during the year.

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