Blue Circle defence revalues property at £546m

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Blue Circle Industries, the cement company facing a hostile bid from France's Lafarge, yesterday attempted to bolster its defences with a claim that its property assets alone were worth up to £546m.

The announcement failed to make an impact on BCI shares, which yesterday closed down 2.25p at 410p, just 1p above the value of Lafarge's bid.

BCI said it owned 17,000 acres in the UK, the most valuable of which are in Kent, in anarea earmarked for development by the Government. The company said the current value of these holdings was £227m or 28p a share and, developed out, they would be worth £546m or 67p a share. The Blue Water shopping centre in Kent, for instance, was built on BCI land.

Simon Brown, an analyst at Williams de Broe, said: "This property presentation was not an earth-shattering experience. It just confirmed the information that we gleamed from the company over the years."

Mr Brown said that he was already working with a £250m current value for property and that the £546m figure for the developed value of the land was largely meaningless, as it was simply an "aspiration".