Bourne brothers return to UK property market: Show of confidence from boom investors

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THE UK property market received another vote of confidence yesterday with the re-emergence of Robert and Graham Bourne, two of the property boom's most successful investors.

The two brothers are part of a small band of dealers, including Martin Landau of Clayform Properties, who had the prescience to get out of UK property at the market's peak in 1989.

Ex-Lands, the company they have headed since 1990, is buying a pounds 5.8m portfolio of London commercial and retail properties. The deal will be funded by a placing of 7.5 per cent loan stock to raise pounds 15m.

Andrew Blurton, who came with the Bourne brothers from their previous company, Local London, said: 'We are very confident about certain areas of the UK property market, especially properties where we can increase yields through refurbishment, change of use applications and part-sales.'

For the past three years Ex-Lands has been developing golf courses in Europe in collaboration with Bernhard Langer, the German golfer.

Local London, set up by the Bournes in 1979, was floated in 1986 with a market value of pounds 6m. It was sold three years later to Priest Marians in a contested bid for pounds 111m in cash.

The debt taken on to finance the deal brought Priest Marians to its knees in 1990. It was taken over by Grovewood Securities only to force its parent to call in receivers a year later.

Ex-Lands, in which the Saatchi brothers hold a 10 per cent stake, also forecast that profits for the year to end-June would be not less than pounds 900,000. A full-year dividend of 0.35p is promised. The shares closed yesterday unchanged at 31p.