Martin Greenslade – Group Finance Director
The Group's profit before tax was just over £1bn, compared to a loss of £4.7bn for the previous year. Now the largest driver behind this improvement was the revaluation surplus on our combined investment portfolio. Our assets were valued at £9.54bn – and that was up 10.3% on last year.
If we look at our key priorities, a key priority for this year was to strengthen our balance sheet through property sales, and as a result we increased the average duration of our debt from 9.6 to 11.8 years – and 11.8 years is one of the longest durations for any property company.
If we turn to our revenue profit, our revenue profit declined by 20% to £251.8m, but that was in line with expectations and it was mainly due to a 12% decline in net rental income as the impact of our sales programme was felt.
In the medium term, we expect revenue profit to grow through a combination of portfolio lettings, bringing back dormant development sites into productive use and completing those development projects at a rental yield in excess of the cost of our debt.
Now our policy is broadly to match trends in dividends to underlying earnings. So we expect to maintain our dividend at the same level of 28p per share for 2010/2011, but will look to grow the dividend as revenue profit growth returns.