LMS lifts dividend

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The Independent Online
LONDON Merchant Securities, Lord Rayne's property company, has increased its dividend despite a 17.7 per cent fall to pounds 388m in the value of its property portfolio.

Strong growth in LMS's rental income, from pounds 23.2m to pounds 28.9m, included a pounds 1.3m rent rise for a Baker Street building let to Marks & Spencer. With no profits from property trading and higher expenses, pre-tax profits for the year to 31 March declined to pounds 24m from pounds 28.9m. An increased final dividend of 3p lifted the total by 5.5 per cent to 3.8p a share.

LMS made an extraordinary profit of pounds 22.6m thanks to the sale of a near-15 per cent stake in First Leisure, the discotheque and bowling alley group.

The group's cash and share holdings of pounds 175m exceed its current market value.