Small Talk: No sign of property blues in booming Bulgaria

Everybody knows that property prices in the UK are heading south and that the spectre of negative equity is once again raising its head. Not so in Bulgaria, apparently.

Last week, Bulgarian Property Developments was shouting from the Sredna Gora mountain tops after it managed to sell its logistics park in the Black Sea town of Varna for €15m (£11.9m), the valuation given to it by Colliers last Dec-ember. That is important, says its chief executive, Ivo Hesmondhalgh, not only because it helps bump up the group's cash position, but also because it goes some way to proving to investors that the group's net asset value is sound.

Mr Hesmondhalgh was so chuffed, in fact, that he has decided to buy more shares in the group, a lucrative move since last Tuesday when BPD announced a 19p dividend. The shares closed on Friday at 51.25p, and investors still have until 11 July to buy before the stock goes ex-dividend, effectively meaning that buyers can pick up shares for about 32p. Analysts say that the group trades at a significant discount and that the stock actually should be worth 56p given the net asset value. Moreover, if the group's application to increase density in its major site in Sofia gets approval, this figure will rise to 71p.

Mr Hesmondhalgh only managed to get three hours sleep last Thursday night, after a disturbance at Sofia airport, from where he was travelling to his home in Barcelona, caused his flight to be cancelled. He should sleep more easily on the night of 17 July after the group pays the dividend.

Begbies Traynor Group

There are always those that seem to do well out of a crisis. The Alternative Investment Market-listed Begbies Traynor Group, a business rescue and restructuring firm, is probably pretty well placed as a plethora of companies feel the credit crunch pinch.

The group, which acted as administrator for the doomed business airline Silverjet last month, has its results out on Wednesday this week, and they are expected to be impressive.

The company issued a trading statement in May, saying that, unsurprisingly, its business insolvency division, which generates 75 per cent of revenues, had a "significant recovery in work flow". Quite how significant, we will see on Wednesday, but several analysts are already lining up to recommend the shares in anticipation of stellar numbers. "The operational base has been significantly scaled up in preparation for increasing demand and we expect 2009 and 2010 to be strong years," say those at Brewin Dolphin. They say that revenue will grow organically by about 9 per cent during this period.

While the majority of companies in a range of sectors are really starting to find business tough going, Begbies could just be about to be to enter a golden period.

Alternative Networks

Good news for Alternative Networks shareholders: the company is set to give about £4m back after having rather a good time of it recently.

The group, which sets up small- and medium-sized companies with communications systems, is a something of a success story: it was established in 1994 with £10,000 of capital and is now worth about £65m, with turnover in the region of £100m.

On the face of things, Alternative Networks might be considered to be a potential credit crunch casualty; as its customers struggle, so they lay staff off staff and need fewer mobile phones and Blackberries.

Clearly, this is not the case. Its chief executive, James Murray, says that the group is diversified: its biggest customer generates just £75,000 of monthly revenue and contributes less than 1 per cent of overall takings.

Mr Murray, who himself owns 30 per cent of the stock and is therefore in for a handsome pay day, also says that as his customers begin to feel the pinch, they are more inclined to allow staff to work from home, thus increasing the need for communications devices.

Either way, shareholders will be happy, and because 50 per cent of the stock is owned by staff, the summer party should be a good bash too.


The next few weeks are set to be very busy for the outsourcing group Spice. Today, the group will announce its annual results, and chief executive Simon Rigby predicts it will be a "particularly good day".

The smart money is on the group, which predominately operates in the utility and infrastructure markets, posting pre-tax profits of £22m; an improvement on last year's £13.5m. However, the work is not done after Monday because the company is hoping to move to the main list by the end of the month: the culmination of six months of very hard work, says Mr Rigby.

Spice will probably be welcomed to the main list as a pretty safe stock. The company runs services for electricity and water companies, among others, such as bill collection and water meter installation. With the water regulator targeting half a million new water metres being installed in people's homes each year, there appears to be plenty for the group to get its teeth stuck into.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Life and Style
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'