Hansteen Holdings receives boost from growth of online retailing

PROPERTY group Hansteen Holdings, which has a large portfolio in Yorkshire, plans to return £580m to shareholders by the end of the year, after its performance was boosted by the growth of online retailing.

The City of London at dusk. Hansteen Holdings plans to return £500m to shareholders by the end of the year. Photo: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The company reported a 2.8 per cent growth in net asset value to 132.5 pence for the six months to June 30, from 128.9 pence on December 31, which was largely due to strong investment and occupier demand.

“For the first time in many years strong occupier demand has resulted in increasing rents per let square foot and it looks as though this trend will continue,” the British industrial property developer said in a statement.

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Derek Heathwood, the UK property director, added: “Yorkshire has always been a good performer for us.”

Hansteen’s portfolio includes properties in Barnsley, Bradford, Hull, Doncaster, Sheffield and Skipton. Mr Heathwood said the growth of e-commerce was one of the factors behind the increased demand.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has weighed on property firms with offices and shopping centres, but industrial property firms have outperformed the sector, boosted by higher demand for warehouses as retailers expand online operations. Data from consultants shows the industrial market continued to outperform all other European real estate sectors this year. Hansteen said internet retail expansion supported its market.

Hansteen has become more focused on Britain since selling its German and Dutch industrial property portfolios for 1.28bn euros to a venture between Blackstone Group LP and M7 Real Estate. The deal completed in June.

To bulk up its exposure to the British market, which is facing a shortage of industrial property, Hansteen bought smaller peer Industrial Multi Property Trust in July, adding a portfolio of 51 properties and offering 500 units for lease.

Hansteen, which had previously said the June 2016 Brexit vote had not hurt demand, said its UK business showed growth over the first six months of the year, helped largely by rental growth and successful asset management initiatives.

The developer’s November interim dividend had increased to 2.3 pence per share, up from 2.2 pence a year ago, it said.

Melvyn Egglenton, the company’s chairman, said: “Looking forward, following the proposed return to shareholders, our projections indicate that there is scope to increase dividends, on a fully covered basis, compared to the historic levels.”