LMS takes on more shops in pounds 9.25m deal

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LONDON Merchant Securities, the property investment company chaired by Lord Rayne, has bought 19 single-unit shops for pounds 9.25m, writes Robert Cole.

It acquired the shops from a private concern called Abchurch Properties. The deal forms part of LMS's strategy to broaden its portfolio.

Four-fifths of its properties are offices and most of its buildings are in London. One of its tenants is Marks and Spencer, which rents office space from LMS next door to M&S's Baker Street headquarters.

LMS wants to add more retail properties, which make up 20 per cent of its assets, and to dilute its exposure in the capital.

Nick Driver, a director of LMS, said: 'This purchase is a continuation of our current policy directed to increasing the retail content of our portfolio and to widening its geographic spread.'

The 19 retail premises bought yesterday are spread throughout the country, from Blyth, near Newcastle upon Tyne, to Eastbourne, East Sussex. The initial yield is 8 per cent.

Mr Driver said LMS was on the lookout for other retail properties. However, he said the prices being paid by some institutional property investors were forcing rental yields down to unacceptably low levels.

'We are an investment company. We do not trade in property and therefore pay dividends out of revenue,' said Mr Driver.

In the year to last March LMS had a gross rental income of pounds 33.7m and made taxable profits of pounds 27.8m.

During the past 12 months the shares have risen from 80p and yesterday they were unchanged at 119p. It paid a 4p dividend for 1993, equivalent to an historic gross yield of 4.2 per cent.