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British Land Backs Underlying Earnings View; Suspends Dividend Due To Covid-19

British Land Company plc (BRLAF.PK,BTLCY.PK,BLND.L) Thursday said its underlying earnings for the year ending March 31, 2020 are currently expected to be broadly in line with previous expectations, however the Board is unable to comment further on the outlook due to the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19.

Further, the company said its Board considers it prudent to temporarily suspend future dividend payments. This will be with immediate effect, including the FY20 Q3 dividend due for payment in May.

The company noted that following the new measures announced by the Government on March 23, one of its retail centres, Valentine, Lincoln, is closed. All others remain open to provide important access to essential stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies. Overall, as of 25 March, around 200 individual units are open.

The company added that it is releasing smaller retail, food & beverage and leisure customers from their rental obligations for three months, from April to June. The financial impact in terms of lost rent and service charge is about 3 million pounds.

For other retail, food & beverage and leisure customers experiencing financial challenges because of COVID-19, the company said it is prepared to defer the March quarter day rents and spread repayment over the six quarters from September 2020.

The company estimates the aggregate amount of March deferrals across the Group will be about 40 million pounds, British Land share, assuming this is extended to joint venture and fund properties.

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