Doctor will see you now - on the stock market

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The Independent Online

Ashley House Interbuild, a one-stop shop for doctors wishing to move into new surgeries, this week makes its debut on the lightly regulated Ofex market.

Ashley House Interbuild, a one-stop shop for doctors wishing to move into new surgeries, this week makes its debut on the lightly regulated Ofex market.

The company has proved adept at exploiting the growing trend among GPs to abandon smaller practices in favour of setting up larger surgeries with multiple doctors. Ashley House is looking for its share of a £200m-a-year market, even without the £1bn government has pledged over the next five years to improve GPs' premises. The company is expected to make a £1.1m profit this year on sales of £8m, but its income is expected to double next year. Its last dividend was £1.20 a share.

Simon Ellen, Ashley House chairman, said: "It is every political party's agenda to focus on providing primary healthcare and the facilities it needs will continue to be funded by the government. This makes us a quasi-public sector company."

Ashley House has so far built 32 new surgeries, with 18 more in the pipeline and a further 64 being negotiated. Mr Ellen reckons that the average premises, which used to cost £100,000 to £200,000, are now costing as much as £500,000 because of the trend towards bigger surgeries and additional services - including vets, dentists, pharmacists - on site. Ashley House is hoping to use the money raised to fund the acquisition of one or more architectural practices.

Mr Ellen, a former fund manager, owns 4 per cent of Ashley House. A similar stake is controlled by John Gunn, the former chief executive of British & Commonwealth, the financial services conglomerate. Two of Ashley House's original partners are to be bought out as part of the deal.

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