Higher occupancy lifts Canary Wharf's Songbird

LONDON Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:40am GMT

In this file photo people ice skate beneath office blocks at Canary Wharf in London December 27, 2006. Songbird Estates, which owns the majority of office buildings in London's Canary Wharf, said net asset value rose 48 percent, thanks to higher occupancy levels and strong valuation uplift. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

In this file photo people ice skate beneath office blocks at Canary Wharf in London December 27, 2006. Songbird Estates, which owns the majority of office buildings in London's Canary Wharf, said net asset value rose 48 percent, thanks to higher occupancy levels and strong valuation uplift.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - Songbird Estates SBDb.L, which owns the majority of office buildings in London's Canary Wharf financial district, said net asset value rose 48 percent, thanks to higher occupancy levels and strong valuation uplift.

Songbird, which has lettings to global investment banks such as Barclays Bank and Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Citigroup, said adjusted NAV per share rose by 89 pence to 2.74 pounds last year from 1.85 pounds a year ago.

"2006 was an excellent year for the company. Songbird continued to make progress towards achieving the strategy outlined at the time of its offer for Canary Wharf Group in 2004," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The market value of properties owned by its main subsidiary Canary Wharf rose 17.6 percent to 6.74 billion pounds and the firm is constructing four buildings, with prelets or presales agreed with firms such as Prudential Retirement Income, KPMG and Bear Stearns.

Occupancy levels also rose, with 95.6 percent of Canary Wharf Group's investment portfolio let, versus 89.6 percent a year ago.

The Canary Wharf site has around 14 million square feet of office and retail space and is home to the 50-storey One Canada Square tower -- the tallest building in Britain.

Songbird said the 1.23 million sq ft One Canada Square, whose tenants include the Daily Telegraph, KPMG, Mirror Group Newspapers, Bank of New York and Bear Stearns, is valued at 857.6 million pounds.

Canary Wharf Group owns around 7.9 million square feet of completed office properties including 600,000 square feet of retail space.

Booming office market has led Britain's property market boom in the last couple of years as strong demand from professional services like international law firms, banks and insurers outstripped supply of prime offices.

Shares in Songbird were down 0.2 percent at 310 pence by 8:15 a.m., valuing the group at around 599 million pounds.

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