Manders could sell shopping centre

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MANDERS (Holdings), the paint maker facing a pounds 89m bid from the rival Kalon Group, said yesterday that it would considering selling its shopping centre in Wolverhampton if it received an acceptable offer, writes Heather Connon.

Manders had criticised Kalon for saying it would sell the Manders Centre if its bid was successful. But Roger Akers, Manders chief executive, said yesterday that the criticism was directed at the announcement of the plan.

The centre was valued at pounds 57m at 31 December, down from pounds 65m the year before. In its defence document, issued yesterday, Manders said that the value had not declined since. The directors say there could be a 'material increase' in the next three years.

The group also disclosed that pre-tax profits in the six months to June had risen two-thirds to pounds 4m. That was partly due to a fall in interest charges from pounds 2.1m to pounds 1.9m and the absence of a pounds 400,000 bad debt charge. Manders refused to reveal the contribution from Windeck, the paint company acquired at the end of last year.

The group forecast that second- half profits would not be less than in the first half and promised a total dividend of at least 8.4p, 20 per cent up on last year. The interim payment was increased by 30 per cent to 2.6p.

Mike Hennessy, Kalon managing director, said the results were 'very disappointing' and claimed that, excluding the bad debt and the Windeck contribution, there would have been no rise.