British Land suspends dividend and offers retailers rent holidays

QD view - British Land's bold move too late?

British Land has suspended its dividend payments and said it was offering smaller shopping centre tenants a three-month rental holiday due to covid-19.

The group said larger retailers and leisure tenants would be able to spread payments over the six quarters from September 2020.

The company, which owns and develops office and retail property, said the rental holiday for smaller retailers would cost around £3m in lost rent and service charges.

The deferment of rent payments for larger retailers represents around £40m.

Following the announcement of the lockdown this week, one of the group’s retail centres has closed while the rest remain open to allow essential stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies to keep trading. Around 200 individual units or 12% of the total portfolio was still open.

Major office developments, including 100 Liverpool Street and 1 Triton Square, construction work was suspended with roughly one month of work and nine months’ work remaining respectively

On the dividend, the group said the decision was taken to ensure the company can “support our retail and leisure customers who are hardest hit, protect the long-term value of the business, and further strengthen our financial position”.

Available cash and undrawn borrowing facilities stood at £1.2bn after a revolving credit facility was extended, with “significant headroom” in its debt covenants.

The group added it would revisit the dividend policy in the future.

BLND : British Land suspends dividend and offers retailers rent holidays

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