Songbird boosted by jump in London property values

Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:40am EDT

* Says adjusted NAV per share up 38 percent to 290 pence

* Market value of portfolio up 14.9 pct to 6.57 bln stg

* Shares up 16 percent, hit more than four-year high (Adds details, analyst reaction, shares)

LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - Songbird Estates Plc, majority owner of London's Canary Wharf Group, said its property holdings had jumped in value in 2013, reflecting robust demand for office space and endorsing its strategy to pursue residential development.

The company, which is benefiting from surging London property prices, said it was "confident about the immediate prospects for the London real estate market".

"The development pipeline (of new buildings) is well positioned to take advantage of increasing demand and the prospect of a shortfall in supply of both prime commercial and residential space," it said on Friday.

Shares in Songbird, which counts Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp as major shareholders, rose to a more than four-year high of 235 pence and were trading up 16 percent at 220.5 pence at 1032 GMT.

Parts of central London have experienced sharp rises in property prices in recent months on the back of resurgent economic growth and demand from overseas buyers.

Songbird said its net asset value (NAV) had grown by nearly 50 percent to 2.66 billion pounds ($4.4 billion) in the year through December, increasing its adjusted NAV per share by 38 percent to 290 pence. The market value of its total portfolio rose 14.9 percent to 6.57 billion pounds.

Analysts at JPMorgan Cazenove said the group had delivered "outstanding full-year results", with NAV coming in 26 percent ahead of their expectation of 230p. Underlying pretax profit of 22.4 million pounds also came in ahead of expectations, they said.

The company, which is a part-owner of the "Walkie Talkie" skyscraper in the City of London, is developing space next to its Canary Wharf estate in east London, which is home to major banks and financial institutions.

A 20-acre site called Wood Wharf will consist of smaller office blocks, apartments and shops. ($1 = 0.6019 British Pounds) (Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by David Holmes)