Bottom Line: Anglia's hard choice

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The Independent Online
ANGLIA Secure Homes is unequivocal about its prospects in the absence of the proposed reverse takeover by venture capitalists Nash Sells. Years of losses from its sheltered housing operation had become unsustainable.

Shareholders have no option but to accept that owning less than 10 per cent of a company with a future, however modest, in nursing homes is better than 100 per cent of bust property developer.

Anglia last made a profit from building retirement homes in 1988 and has not paid a dividend since the following year. In the recession it discovered the hard way the high risks of a capital intensive business dependent on its customers' ability to sell their own homes.

The income from nursing homes is more predictable, tied as it is to long-term contracts with local health authorities. And pro- forma profits for the year to last September suggest that a return to the dividend list may even be possible in the current year.

Peter Edmondson walks away with 18 months' salary as his reward for guiding Anglia to the brink. That may seem galling to shareholders whose equity, which traded at 458p in 1989 will return from suspension at closer to the rights price of 4.25p than the 12p suspension price.

Whether they take up the issue will depend on how much faith they have in the ability of the rest of the management, which is unchanged, to make a better fist of the renamed Care UK's nursing activities than its ill-fated house building venture.