City File: Lost property

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The Independent Online
WHAT am I bid for a large property company with assets concentrated in some of the hardest-hit city centres in the world - and with leases close to termination in London and Melbourne?

The company is Hammerson, and its full-year profits, to be announced on Tuesday, are set to fall a fifth to around pounds 43m. The dividend will probably be halved and the net asset value will probably be down to well below 500p a share, compared with 637p last year.

The share price has been boosted by takeover hopes, but bidders need to convince Standard Life, with 28 per cent, to cut its losses. They also need to install new management as the veteran chairman and his heir apparent are to retire.

It sounds an unlikely story. Buying Hammerson A shares above the 300p mark is only for perennial optimists.

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