Highland scheme hopes for prices growth in the woods

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The Independent Online
LOW timber prices and the promise of an upturn in the economic climate over the next five years are the main ingredients in the formula underpinning Highland Timber, a pounds 750,000 Scottish Business Expansion Scheme issue.

Highland Timber will convert standing timber and felled logs into finished products for the wholesale market. Timber prices are generally agreed to be at an all-time low, although prices on the US lumber market have suddenly leapt up.

Richard Crosbie Dawson, Highland Timber director, does not believe that UK prices will follow the US market in a dramatic short-term rise. 'But timber prices would undoubtedly follow up an improvement in the economy here,' he said.

The soaring US prices have come partly as the result of environmental concerns, which have led to the closing of millions of hectares of land to the forestry industry in an attempt to protect the spotted owl.

Environmental lobbying could also have its impact on this side of the Atlantic. The Timber Research and Development Association is pushing a campaign to encourage the use of timber ('the most environmentally friendly construction material') in the British construction industry.

The backers of Highland Timber have already been involved in two BES issues. Investors in Timber Processors received pounds 1.22 for each pounds 1 share at the end of the five- year period. Highland Sawmillers, now in its its fifth year, has, according to the Highland Timber offer document, generated a 'modest profit' before tax and a stock of timber, 'which will be realised once market conditions improve'.

The new offer closes on 31 March unless it becomes fully subscribed before then.

Meanwhile Midland Bank is offering a loan-back facility after six months to 40 per cent taxpayers who invest in the pounds 5m assured-tenancy Cavendish Wates Fourth BES scheme. Investors who take up the offer will get back 73p for every pounds 1 invested as well as the 40p tax refund from the Inland Revenue. Minimum investment is pounds 1,000. The scheme is sponsored by Smith & Williamson.

Capel-Cure Myers Capital Management has launched a pounds 5,000-minimum discretionary investment service for would-be BES investors. The funds will be invested in BES companies launched before the end of the financial year on 5 April.

Contact: Highland Timber 0451 844655; Smith & Williamson 071-637 5377; Capel-Cure Myers 071-488 4000.

(Photograph omitted)

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