The value of British Land’s portfolio has slumped 7.3pc, or almost £1bn, to £11.2bn as the pandemic slashes rental income it receives from retailers. The real estate investment trust’s writedown mirrors a similar move by Land Securities last week and, alongside weak earnings, pushed its stock down 12.4p to 498.6p yesterday. British Land said retail assets have dropped almost 15pc in value, while offices have lost 3.1pc. Meanwhile it took in just 62pc of shop rents at the end of September, as another 16 retailers went into administration or company voluntary arrangement. It reported a 30pc fall in half year pre-tax profits to £107m, compared to a year ago, but resumed its dividend with an interim pay out of 8.4p a share. The FTSE 100 firm said office space leasing volumes will likely take a hit as customers are expected to continue to defer decisions and extend leases amid virus and Brexit uncertainty. Meanwhile, shares of Yorkshire-based chemicals group Croda jumped 312p in morning trading, after it agreed to buy Spain’s Iberchem for €820m (£732m). Croda plans to raise £600m in equity – from private equity firm Eurazeo SE – to help pay for the deal as it taps into a growing demand for fragrance and home products. Iberchem, Europe’s largest cosmetic ingredients maker, makes 80pc of its sales from fragrances used in personal and home-care products like detergents. Croda hopes the acquisition will boost its sales in high-growth markets from China to the Middle East. Its shares pared some gains in late trading to end down 54p at £60.30, yet remains up about 18pc this year. The FTSE 100 reversed Tuesday’s losses to end up 19.91p to 6,385.24 after Pfizer said its vaccine is better than first revealed, with a 95pc effectiveness as opposed to the 90pc announced last week. Midcaps also jumped on hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal as the EU’s trade commissioner said Britain and the bloc were in the last moments of reaching an agreement. The domestically focused FTSE 250, considered a barometer for Brexit sentiment, closed 0.9pc higher. Traders shrugged off earlier pessimism, when they were focusing on a 0.7pc rise in inflation in October as clothing and food prices climbed. The rise is still a long way off the Bank of England’s 2pc target. More Than owner RSA Insurance was the largest boost for the market, adding 29.8p to 676.8p to the highest levels since June 2018. It agreed to a takeover by a group led by Canadian firm Intact Financial Corporation in a deal valuing the firm at £7.2bn, with an offer of 685p a share in cash. British energy giant SSE was one of the top risers despite announcing a £115m pandemic-related hit as it posted a 26pc drop in profits for the first half. It said the estimated impact is slightly lower than expected, but puts the group on course for a full-year earnings blow in the middle of the £150m to £250m range previously announced. Shares added 59p to £14.07.