Benchmark spends pounds 120m on properties

Benchmark Group, the acquisitive property investment company, announced its biggest purchase to date yesterday as it snapped up a total of 12 properties for pounds 120m. It also pledged to spend a similar sum on suitable targets in the near future.

The news, which took the value of Benchmark's portfolio to pounds 330m, moved the company closer to its stated aim of having a portfolio worth pounds 500m by the year 2001.

Benchmark bought 11 properties from Friends Provident for pounds 82m, and a pounds 38m West End location, Wool House, from Chelsfield.

The group will raise pounds 119m for the deal through a rights issue of over 60 million new ordinary shares at 200p a share. Shareholders' approval will be sought at an extraordinary general meeting at the end of the month.

KC Wong, joint managing director, said he was casting his eye over "undervalued assets" over the next year, and could justify spending around pounds 100m if the opportunity arose. However, he added: "We're not growing for the sake of growing; we'll buy as and when the opportunities arise."

The Friends Provident deal on properties in central London and Leadenhall in the City, followed talks since last October, when FP sold a central London portfolio to Benchmark for pounds 113m, in return for a 35 per cent stake in the company. The move transformed Benchmark overnight from a pounds 3m tiddler into a business with a market worth of pounds 100m. The company was last night valued at pounds 147m. Shares jumped 4p to 244p yesterday.

Benchmark will undertake office refurbishments of the central London sites formerly owned by FP, and has applied for planning permission to create 22,000 square feet of offices in the Leadenhall location.

Mr Wong said the company had been "pointed in the direction" of the Chelsfield acquisition. Planning permission at Wool House has already been obtained, and work is to begin shortly on 97,750 square feet of offices, and a smaller area of residential developments.

Benchmark declared a maiden dividend of 3p a share for the year to the end of June this year, instead of a final dividend at the end of the year. As a result of the deals Benchmark would be taking on another three senior managers, Mr Wong said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project