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The investment column: MEPC

JAMIE DUNDAS, the former finance director of property group MEPC, took over as chief executive yesterday and said MEPC was eyeing up opportunities to buy business parks.

The hunt is part of an ongoing restructuring of MEPC's portfolio. The group, the UK's third largest property company, has disposed of smaller holdings in favour of larger lots in the south-east. That helped it lift net asset value 5 per cent to pounds 575m.

MEPC's business is fairly evenly spread across its three retail, office and business park divisions. Business parks doubled to 28 per cent of the pie, while retail still occupies 27 per cent. Offices account for 38 per cent of the total. Mr Dundas said MEPC would be snapping up business park opportunities in the area west of London, along the M4 corridor, the M3 and M40.

Analysts upgraded forecasts for NAV next year to 600p and expect pre- tax profits of pounds 110m for the year. The shares rose 5.5p to 519p yesterday and still look good value as a defensive play.