Control hit by write-downs

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The Independent Online
CONTROL SECURITIES, the debt-burdened property and leisure group, yesterday declared pre-tax losses of pounds 68.5m after huge write-downs in the value of its property portfolio.

Sydney Robin, who took over as chairman from Nazmu Virani last year after the latter was charged with fraud, said the company's refinancing talks with creditors were nearing completion.

'If it were a football match, we would be in the 75th minute,' he said.

He added that the directors believed that the revaluation of the group's property assets did not accurately reflect the values that could be achieved from Control's programme of disposals.

'The properties we have successfully sold recently have realised prices nearer the old book value than the new valuations,' he said.

He added that the revaluation was an essential ingredient in the group's attempts to get its shares relisted. They have been suspended at 16 1/2p since October 1991.

He said he hoped the suspension would be lifted when the negotiations with creditors were completed.

At the trading level, the company made pounds 17.2m ( pounds 17.7m) in the first half, but all of that was eaten up by interest charges.

Mr Robin said that bank debt, which stood at pounds 180m at the last year-end, had been cut by pounds 30m- pounds 40m. Control also has Swiss bond borrowings of Sfr200m ( pounds 94m).

The pounds 68.4m exceptional items announced include a pounds 12.6m currency loss on the bond interest payments as a result of the devaluation of sterling. The property write-downs amount to pounds 52.8m.

Under Section 142 of the Companies Act 1985, the company has been obliged to call an extraordinary meeting for 17 March, because its net assets have fallen to less than half its called-up share capital.

Mr Robin said that the refinancing negotiations would not be concluded by then, so he would be asking shareholders for their support in continuing the talks.