Net Asset Value per share increases 17.6% as the group wrote up the value of its assets by £447m

Hammerson increasesd its adjusted profit before tax by 11%, to £144.5m in the financial year to 31 December 2010, the firm revealed today.

During its 2009 financial year its adjusted profit before tax was £130m.

It increased profits despite a fall in the rent it recevied on its properties during the year.

During 2010, rental income was £284.7m, down 3% from the £293.6m it earned during 2009.

After stripping out those properties it sold during the year, its rental income actually increased by 3.5%.

As the group paid off debt and saw an increase in the value of its property assets, the amount of its borrowings, as a proportion of the value of its assets declined significantly.

Its debt to property value ration (gearing) fell during the year, to end 2010 at 52%, compared to 72% at the end of december 2009.

This helped the firm’s Net Asset Value per share increase by 17.6%.

Commenting on the results, Hammerson chairman John Nelson said: “This is a strong set of results that reinforces the strategy we are pursuing.

“Our rigorous focus on the performance of each asset is improving occupancy and income.

“We have sold mature assets and reinvested in properties that offer better growth prospects through active management.

“Looking forward, our financial flexibility and continued asset recycling will allow us to continue to take advantage of opportunities that we believe will arise in the coming period.”

Property disposals in the year raised £555m, while £219m was invested in acquisitions.

These transactions resulted in Hammerson recycling the equivalent of 15% of its portfolio, which at the year-end was valued at £5.3bn.

There is still much uncertainty in the market, however, and the firm said: “Potential occupiers remain cautious about entering into commitments to lease space, although the level of interest has increased over the last year.

“Although we have a significant development pipeline, the programme will be phased and we will not start major capital projects without substantial pre-lets.”