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Great Portland posts first annual loss in 4 years as pandemic batters retail business

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(Reuters) -London-focused property developer Great Portland Estates Plc reported its first full-year loss since 2017 on Wednesday, as the pandemic wreaked havoc in its retail portfolio.

Commercial property firms have underperformed the wider real estate sector, as multiple lockdowns and an ongoing moratorium on rent collection squeezed valuations of retail-focused assets, while remote working has weighed on office portfolios.

The West End landlord said it expects retail challenges to persist given both structural change and the time it may take for footfall to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

The FTSE 250-listed company said a per share measure which reflects the value of its buildings, EPRA net tangible asset (NTA), fell 10.3% to 779 pence, and valuation of its retail portfolio plunged 27.3%.

On Tuesday, its larger rival Land Securities said its full-year loss widened by more than 500 million pounds as a steep decline in rental income and footfall during the pandemic battered the firm's retail and leisure assets.

Great Portland said its annual net rental income fell to 62.1 million pounds ($88.12 million) from 79.9 million pounds a year earlier.

The firm, which owns 2.6 million square feet of central London property, said loss after tax for the 12 months ended March 31 came in at 201.9 million pounds, compared with a profit of 51.8 million pounds a year earlier.

($1 = 0.7046 pounds)

($1 = 0.7047 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)