Storehouse pulls out of joint venture with LET

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The Independent Online
STOREHOUSE has pulled out of its property joint venture with London & Edinburgh Trust, paying pounds 67.7m for 28 freeholds and long leaseholds, including its head office building in London's Marylebone Road.

Four years ago Storehouse, the BhS and Mothercare group, injected stores and other property worth pounds 111m into the venture, Oppidan Estates, in return for cash and a 50 per cent stake.

Then Storehouse was short of cash and property expertise and BhS was shrinking, explained Richard Dixon, a spokesman. Now it is cash-rich and BhS is expanding.

The cash impact on the group will be a pounds 37.5m outflow. However, the impact on earnings will be neutral in 1993/4 and enhancing thereafter as the rental savings increase. Net assets are unchanged.

LET, which was sold by the Beckwith brothers to the Swedish life assurer SPP in 1990 in a deal valuing it at pounds 500m, said the change fitted with its strategy to concentrate on portfolio investment.

LET lifts its holding in Oppidan to 100 per cent. It will retain 15 Oppidan properties and also plans to buy back from Storehouse three properties worth pounds 2.1m. The price of the deal was in line with an independent valuation for the properties in December 1992.

Storehouse is seeking a chief executive following the abrupt departure of David Dworkin. Mr Dixon said he did not expect the search to be completed for some time, though some candidates had been contacted.