Housing groups raise pounds 83m from bond markets

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The Independent Online
NINE housing associations have been able to raise a total of pounds 83m from the bond markets using an innovative structure put together by Kleinwort Benson, the merchant bankers.

The associations - which range from the country's largest, Anchor, to the tiny Maritime Housing Association - have come together in a company called Haco, which is issuing the debenture.

The consortium was put together by CSL Group, which specialises in public-sector finance.

The associations are raising the money so that they can put up private finance commitments to their housebuilding projects. This will allow them to receive up to pounds 120m in grants from The Housing Corporation, the government body that regulates and financially supports housing associations.

Haco is chaired by Sir Hugh Cubitt, formerly of The Housing Corporation, who said: 'Haco has been able to raise finance at an extremely competitive level for its members.'

The bond, which carries an interest rate of 10.65 per cent, was placed with institutional investors by Kleinwort Benson yesterday morning. Graham Beazley-Long, a director of the merchant bank, said the reception was better than expected, given the state of the housing market.

There are rumours in the City of another fund-raising by a housing association, thought to be a pounds 30m issue by North British.

The debt is secured in some cases on the association and in others on the properties it owns, and the housing associations can swap the security around if they need to raise extra finance.

The format has been used twice before by Kleinwort to raise money for investment trusts and regional brewers. The first one was in February 1991, when five investment trusts came together to raise an open-ended amount of money through a company called Trustco Finance.

This was followed by a consortium of five brewers coming together in Pubco, which raised pounds 98.5m in two bond issues, in July last year and January this year.

Kleinwort has been trying to put together other groupings for a collective fund-raising. It works well with companies that have good debt ratings but want to raise only a small amount.

It has tried to put together a consortium of property companies, but has not been able to obtain good enough security for the debenture.

Two other consortia are being considered, but Kleinwort has not been able to put together enough participants as yet.