Property company writes down value of portfolio by 5% and says it is reviewing construction schedule for the 'cheesegrater' tower

Shares in commercial property firm British Land rose 5% this morning despite recording a loss of £572m on 'ordinary activities' for the first quarter of 2008.

The firm said its underlying profits rose 8% on the previous quarter, to £74m.

The company also said it was reviewing the construction schedule of the 'cheesegrater' development at 122 Leadenhall. It said it would set a new completion date in order to 'optimise cost and occupational demand'.

This figure compares with £76m for the same quarter the previous year, a fall of 2%. It also said the continuing property squeeze meant it had written down the value of its portfolio by 5%, causing its loss per share to reach 111p.

Chris Gibson-Smith, Chairman, said: "These first quarter results demonstrate British Land's resilience in the face of a weak economy and gloomy market sentiment. While values are marked down in a thin market, our prime assets - buildings and customer contracts - provide strength in difficult times and opportunity when the cycle turns."

It said its portfolio was 98% let and it had “substantial capital waiting in the sidelines” ready to take advantage of cheap investment opportunities in the downturn.

It said it continued to press ahead with the rest of its development portfolio, which includes the completion of 201 Bishopsgate in the City of London, and additions to the Sheffield retail centre Meadowhall.