(Alliance News) - Shaftesbury Capital PLC said on Thursday it has seen "excellent" leasing momentum and low vacancy across all uses in the first three month of 2024.

This real estate investment trust was formed from merger of Capital & Counties Properties PLC and Shaftesbury PLC in March last year.

Ahead of the annual general meeting on Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Ian Hawksworth said in a trading update it had been a "positive" start to the year, with West End estates "busy and vibrant" due to high footfall, customer sales growth and increasing levels of international tourism.

"There is continued strong leasing demand across all uses with 147 transactions completed in the period, at rents on average 7% ahead of December 2023 ERV and an excellent leasing pipeline, reflecting the appeal of our exceptional portfolio," Hawksworth said, noting that retail and hospitality leasing demand has been strong across the portfolio.

"Customer sales continue to grow reflecting the positive trends seen in 2023 boosted by increasing levels of international visitors," Hawksworth said.

Shaftesbury Capital said it has access to over GBP500 million of liquidity from undrawn bank facilities and cash as at March 31, compared to GBP486 million as at December 31.

The group said it had completed GBP213 million of asset sales since merger in Match last year at a premium to valuation, reinvesting over GBP80 million in target acquisitions.

Shares were down 0.9% at 140.70 pence on Thursday afternoon in London. In Johannesburg, they rose 0.3% to ZAR33.03, however.

By Artwell Dlamini, Alliance News reporter

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