Ladbroke sells shopping sites

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The Independent Online
LADBROKE, the betting, hotels and do-it-yourself group, has sold some of its 12 out-of-town shopping sites from its property portfolio to overseas investors.

The pounds 80m proceeds will have reduced the company's borrowings in time for the accounts to be drawn up on 31 December. A spokesman said the disposal was 'useful for the balance sheet'.

He declined to say which retail parks had been sold, but said they had fetched 'marginally above book value', which means there will be a small profit included in the accounts, due in March.

Interest on the proceeds will almost replace rent receivable from the sites, which have been sold on a 9 per cent yield.

The spokesman said the company's policy was 'to downsize its (property) portfolio when it can achieve good prices'.

Peter Hilliar, an analyst at Barclays de Zoete Wedd, expects profits to have fallen from pounds 210m to pounds 190m before tax last year. His forecast includes pounds 40m profit from selling hotels.

Ladbroke's shares rose 4p to 183p. It also announced plans to open at least 70 off-track betting shops in Argentina.

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