NPC brings flotation forward

Andrew Yates

National Parking Corporation, the biggest car-parking group in Britain, has brought forward plans to join the stock market in a move which will value the company at pounds 750m. The company is considering launching a flotation as early as next summer.

"We have accelerated our flotation plans," said Bob Mackenzie, chief executive. "It would be a good time to come to the market next summer, after our year end."

The main beneficiaries will be the two founders, Sir Don Gosling and Ronald Hobson, who own nearly three-quarters of the business. Their combined stakes will be worth pounds 500m. The pair netted pounds 30m between them yesterday when NPC announced the payment of a pounds 41.7m special dividend along with its full-year results.

NPC announced record profits of pounds 46.1m for the year to last March, a rise of 83 per cent. The dividend is equivalent to 35p per share. Mr Mackenzie has been grooming NPC for a float since being appointed two years ago, shortly after talks to sell the business to a consortium headed by Prudential for pounds 700m fell through. He had planned to bring NPC to the market in 1999 but his restructuring programme is going better than expected. Last year NPC sacked 300 workers as part of a shake-up of its car park portfolio.

NPC plans to launch a pounds 15m advertising campaign to promote its Green Flag subsidiary, the third-largest emergency breakdown service.

After closing its French business last year NPC is spending pounds 7.4m upgrading and expanding its base in Leeds.