Champion Real Estate Investment Trust said its distributable income more than doubled last year, as the company benefited from the acquisition of Langham Place. The property trust, a spin-off of Great Eagle Holdings, yesterday posted net income of HK$1.41 billion for last year, a 110.2 per cent jump from HK$669.8 million in 2007. Revenue surged 91.92 per cent to HK$1.61 billion from HK$838.89 million. The property trust, which owns 95.7 per cent of Citibank Plaza in Central, acquired the Langham Place shopping centre and office tower in Mong Kok for HK$12.5 billion in May last year, almost doubling its portfolio to 2.85 million square feet and helping diversify its income stream. However, as the trust issued new units to finance the purchase, distribution per unit for last year dropped 5.86 per cent to 31.98 HK cents from 33.97 HK cents. Gearing also climbed 9.1 percentage points to 36 per cent at the end of last year because of falling property prices and higher debt. Analysts worry that the trust may need to issue new units to cut its gearing, which is approaching the 45 per cent limit under Hong Kong's rules on property trusts. Driven by higher rents in new contracts, the average monthly rent for office space at Citibank Plaza rose from HK$75.42 per square foot in June to HK$87.46 in December. The average spot rent achieved in the fourth quarter was HK$120 per square foot. Nevertheless, the outlook for this year is gloomy, according to Lo Ka-shui, the chairman of Champion Reit's manager, Eagle Asset Management. He said the deteriorating banking and financial services industries would drag down office rents in coming years. 'Vacancies at Citibank Plaza will clearly rise [this year],' he said, adding that the vacancy rate at the property was 2.1 per cent on December 31.