Queen's Estate Sees `Uncertain' U.K. Commercial Property Market

(Bloomberg) -- The real estate company that helps pay for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth says the country’s commercial property market is going through a “challenging” time.

The Crown Estate oversees property that the monarchy surrendered in 1760 in exchange for annual payments. The company beat its benchmark in the last financial year, “against a backdrop of a challenging and uncertain market,” Chief Executive Officer Alison Nimmo said in a briefing with reporters.

The performance was driven primarily by a growing offshore wind portfolio -- the company also manages Britain’s seabed -- and flagship retail lettings in central London.

It returned 329.4 million pounds ($432 million) to state coffers, up 4 percent on a like-for-like basis from a year earlier. The “improved rental tone” in the capital’s West End district was key, Nimmo said.

The Crown Estate has returned 2.7 billion pounds to the U.K. Treasury over the past decade.

Other highlights from its results include:

  • The company reported a total return of 11 percent
  • The value of The Crown Estate’s property rose 6.8 percent to 13.3 billion pounds
  • The value of its regional retail portfolio was unchanged after tenant failures and store closures offset growth from new lettings and openings
  • The company is undertaking a “relative pause” in development after completing a record pipeline of projects, Chief Investment Officer Paul Clark said
  • The equivalent of one offshore wind turbine a day was built in the U.K. in 2017, driving a 20 percent increase in income from the company’s energy and infrastructure portfolio

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