Mail writes down property by 26.5m pounds

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The Independent Online
DAILY Mail and General Trust, the newspaper publisher, has written down its property portfolio by pounds 26.5m, after being hit by the sharply declining value of its buildings in the Fleet Street area of London, writes Patrick Hosking.

However, strong profits growth from its national and regional newspapers, and an pounds 8m boost from the sale of Reuters shares, meant pre-tax profits only fell by 8 per cent to pounds 43.8m.

The stock market marked the widely traded non-voting A shares up from pounds 68 to pounds 73 1/2 . The final dividend of 98p (90p) makes a total of 130p (119p).

The property portfolio, now valued at pounds 65m, includes Carmelite House, Northcliffe House and Harmsworth House. Northcliffe has no tenants; Carmelite is 40 per cent empty, having secured a tenant - the lawyers Taylor Joynson Garrett - for the other 60 per cent.

Newspapers, which include the Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard, lifted operating profits from pounds 59.9m to pounds 70.6m and achieved record circulation and display advertising revenues. However, classified income was hit by the dearth of job advertisements.

The net exceptional loss of pounds 15.2m included a pounds 10.4m profit on the sale of a wharf at Purfleet, east London, and the pounds 8.6m cost of 400 redundancies.

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