Low interest rates fail to revive Peel

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The Independent Online
PEEL Holdings, which won a long- running battle last September to take over the Manchester Ship Canal Company, said yesterday that although falling interest rates had boosted property prices, the market remained weak.

John Whittaker, chairman, said that there had been no improvement in the letting or occupier markets, where rents had remained static and tenant demand modest.

He added that the current surplus of space was making it tough to convert interest into actual tenancies. Letting activity at Salford Quays, the waterfront development in Manchester, remained slow.

Low occupier demand meant that fewer leases were being renewed, cancelling out pounds 1m of new lettings during the half year to September. Empty space in the group's portfolio had a potential rent roll of pounds 5.5m, a quarter of the actual rents received of pounds 20.1m.

Pre-tax profits rose 35 per cent to pounds 2.21m ( pounds 1.64m), but after a pounds 1m (nil) tax charge there was a loss per share of 0.61p (0.95p loss). The interim dividend rose 30 per cent to 1.3p, although the company warned that the increase did not imply a similar increase at the full year.

The shares, which have more than doubled over the past year, closed 1p lower at 368p.

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