British Land Co Plc reported a lower first half underlying pretax profit as the year-ago period benefited from the release of credit risk provision.

The group expects to exploit the growing demand supply imbalance in London offices and to benefit from a growing need from a significant number of retailers to take new space in the best locations.

However, we remain vigilant with respect to the impact of next year's VAT increase and Government spending cuts, the group said in a statement.

The group owns 50 percent of Broadgate in the City and large swathes of the West End.

Net asset value per share increased 4.2 percent to 525 pence, while the value of the group's portfolio grew 2.6 percent to 8.9 billion pounds in the first half.

The group's occupancy rate increased to 98.0 percent at the end of September from 96.6 percent at March end.

Underlying pretax profit was 127 million pounds ($204 million), compared with 129 million pounds in the first half of 2009 which benefited from a 16 million-pound credit provision release.

Shares of British Land are trading at 493.90 pence, 2.58 percent lower, at 09:24 am GMT Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.