Unite plans £57.5m fund raising

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The Independent Online

The property developer Unite yesterday braved the stock market turmoil and announced plans to raise £57.5m through a placing and open offer, saying the move would help it take advantage of opportunities in the markets it operates in.

The property developer Unite yesterday braved the stock market turmoil and announced plans to raise £57.5m through a placing and open offer, saying the move would help it take advantage of opportunities in the markets it operates in.

The company, which specialises in accommodation for students and nurses, said that it was issuing 33 million new shares at 175p.

"This fund raising will help to maintain our market leadership and provide the group with sufficient equity to deliver 8,500 beds per annum," Nicholas Porter, the chief executive, said. "We will not be coming back to the market for any further equity," he added.

Unite said the placing and open offer had been fully underwritten by UBS Warburg. Shareholders will be entitled to buy three new shares for every 11 they already own. Unite shares fell 15p to close at 172.5p, valuing the company at £129m.

Mr Porter added that Unite expects to grow its net asset value per share by more than "the mid-teens" from 2003. Unite said the cash call would be neutral for its net asset value this year. Growth in NAV, which stood at 305p per share at the end of 2001, is a key measure of the performance of property companies.

"We are looking for strong growth in excess of the mid-teens, year on year," a company spokeswoman said.

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