Quintain to cut dividend, sack staff and sell off property

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The Independent Online

The company behind the regeneration around Wembley Stadium is suspending dividend payments, firing staff and selling £100m of its investment portfolio because of the slump in the property market.

Quintain Estates denied it was in crisis but insisted it was acting responsibly in preparing for what it expects to be a lengthy downturn.

Rebecca Worthington, the finance officer, said: "We are not doing this out of desperation but we do expect life to be difficult for sometime." She said three of its major shareholders, owning 30 per cent of the business, were "very supportive" of the emergency action.

The group's decision to halt dividend payments for up to two years will hit investors immediately. Last year, Quintain paid dividends totalling £15m.

Announcing the steps as part of a first-quarter trading update, Adrian Wyatt, the chief executive, said: "The company has responded to these tougher conditions and is equipped for them to continue for the foreseeable future."

Mr Wyatt said Quintain would sell another £83m of property on top of the £16.9m already raised from the sale of two properties in Wembley and one in Cardiff.

Quintain will also seek investors to help finance development of the 85-acre tract of north-west London around the stadium. The estate management team has also been cut from 29 to 13. The group has also shaved off £4.1m in running costs at its "new district" development in Greenwich, close to the O2 stadium. The group insisted that work would carry on normally.

The market responded favourably, marking the shares up 12p at 178p, although they were at a peak of 955p over the past year.