Hammerson deal lifts PosTel stake

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The Independent Online
THE NEW management team at Hammerson, the property company, yesterday began rebalancing its portfolio with the purchase of six properties in a deal that will leave PosTel, the pension manager, with 12.3 per cent of its shares.

Hammerson is paying pounds 143.3m for the portfolio, pounds 118m of which will be financed through the issue of new shares at 370p - 16p above yesterday's closing price of 354p, down 8p. PosTel already had 1.2 per cent of Hammerson and has undertaken not to sell the new shares for 12 months, nor to increase its holding above 15 per cent for 18 months.

Ron Spinney, who took over as chief executive of Hammerson in June, said: 'They are all prime investments generating good-quality income and, even if we do nothing, they will grow income within the next few years.'

The purchase fits with Mr Spinney's aim of increasing the British portfolio at the expense of Canada and Australia, as well as adding to its retail content. Four of the six properties are retail and the others City offices. Rental income is pounds 10.9m.

The purchase will boost the British portion of Hammerson's portfolio from 43 to 49 per cent, but Mr Spinney said he would like to go about 5 per cent higher.

Alastair Ross Goobey, PosTel's chief executive, said: 'This portfolio of property will benefit from a more entrepreneurial approach over the next few years and we are happy to have a shareholding in Hammerson with its gearing, very prime assets and new management team.'

The deal came as Hammerson revealed a pounds 31m profit compared with a pounds 3.1m loss last time. Excluding exceptional property losses and provisions in 1992, however, profits were just pounds 1m higher. Earnings were 13.9p, compared with a 2.7p loss, and the dividend was held at 10p.

The value of the property portfolio declined by 5.1 per cent to pounds 1.4m, or 343p (384p) a share. That was all due to the overseas markets, however, and in Britain values rose by an average of 9.1 per cent.