Hammerson to offload all London offices
Hammerson has revealed it intends to offload all of its offices as part of a move to become a specialist in retail properties.

The real estate investment trust said in its full-year results announcement on Friday (February 24th) that it is looking to sell its London offices "over the medium term" to "maximise value".

Its commercial property assets include 1 Leadenhall Court, 99 Bishopsgate, 125 Old Broad Street and 10 Gresham Street in east central London, Stockley House in Victoria and 10 Grosvenor Street in west central London.

The company also has retail centres across the UK and France, and it is these properties that it says it wants to focus on in the future.

"Following the review of our strategy we will focus on being the best owner-manager and developer of retail property within Europe," said David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson.

He also stressed in a conference call on Friday that the decision to offload the company's London offices is not an indication of any negative view about the commercial property market's performance.

"We still have a good office portfolio that we are going to work up and generate value out of. It is really setting the direction of the company over the next few years," Mr Atkins explained.

It is expected that the sale of Hammerson's offices will generate in the region of £500 million of funds that will be diverted towards its retail business.

The firm generated a net rental income of £296 million for the 2011 financial year, up four per cent on the previous 12-month period.

Hammerson chairman John Nelson noted in his review of the year that London is still attracting both international and national organisations seeking office space, and that it is also becoming a major area of focus for investors searching for security and growth.

"These factors should support capital values for the highest quality assets," he remarked.

Posted by Emma Davies

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