City File: Property Blues

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Bravely, County NatWest has tried to estimate the effect of the property slump on non- property companies. The picture is basically reassuring: the brewers seem relatively unaffected, as do the engineers - apart from British Aerospace - and BAe has already taken a full write-down. Norcros is vulnerable to a further write-down of development properties. So is Ladbroke, whose properties are valued by the directors. In stores, Sears, which has relied on a stream of asset sales to pay its dividend, is under more of a cloud than Burton.

It is inevitably the building companies, however, that are worst off. Their losses 'have not yet been revealed by full and frank disclosures, leaving all companies vulnerable to possible provisions'.