(Adds details, industry context)
Aug 23 (Reuters) - British property group Hansteen Holdings said on Wednesday it planned to return 580 million pounds ($744 million) to shareholders by the end of the year, handing back proceeds from selling its German and Dutch industrial property portfolios.
The company reported a 2.8 percent growth in net asset value to 132.5 pence for the six months to June 30, from 128.9 pence on Dec. 31, citing strong investment and occupier demand.
“For the first time in many years strong occupier demand has resulted in increasing rents per let square foot and it looks as though this trend will continue,” the British industrial property developer said in a statement.
Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has weighed on property firms with offices and shopping centres, but industrial property firms have outperformed the sector, boosted by higher demand for warehouses as retailers expand online operations.
Data from consultants shows the industrial market continued to outperform all other European real estate sectors this year. Hansteen said Internet retail expansion supported its market.
Hansteen has become more focused on Britain since selling its German and Dutch industrial property portfolios for 1.28 billion euros ($1.50 billion) to a venture between Blackstone Group LP and M7 Real Estate. The deal completed in June.
To bulk up its exposure to the British market, which is facing a shortage of industrial property, Hansteen bought smaller peer Industrial Multi Property Trust in July, adding a portfolio of 51 properties and offering 500 units for lease.
Hansteen, which had previously said the June 2016 Brexit vote had not hurt demand, said its UK business showed growth over the first six months of the year, helped largely by rental growth and successful asset management initiatives.
The developer’s November interim dividend had increased to 2.3 pence per share, up from 2.2 pence a year ago, it said.
$1 = 0.7800 pounds $1 = 0.8508 euros Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Louise Heavens and Edmund Blair