LONDON-British Land was unable to offer shareholders much comfort about the search for a replacement chief executive to John Ritblat.

The UK’s second largest listed property company said 16 months ago that the roles of chief executive and chairman would be split. The announcement followed a long battle with activist shareholders who campaigned for the company to be brought into line with corporate governance guidelines.

First choice Philip Yea turned down approaches in favor of top position at venture capitalist 3i. “The search is progressing well, and the board will make an announcement as soon as the process is complete,” Ritblat says.

Despite disappointing progress on the recruitment side, Ritblat gave shareholders much to cheer about. He promised the prospect of more acquisitions when he announced that the company was raising €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in extra unsecured borrowing, bringing the total unsecured amount to €1.8 billion ($2.2 billion).

British Land also reported an “improving outlook” in the city and West End of London. Ritblat says that the pick-up in demand was encouraging for its prospective developments in the area and reports a “renewed appreciation” of the benefits of property investment. “This long-overdue revival of sentiment is not the product of a boom, for City of London office rental levels are now stabilized, and retail rents are showing steady but not abnormal increases,” he says.

British Land’s property portfolio is currently valued at more than €15.8 billion ($19.5 billion) split equally between offices and retail. Flagship developments include the Broadgate Estate in the city, Meadowhall out of town shopping centre in Sheffiled, and Blythe Valley Park near Solihull.

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