Writedown brings Markheath loss

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The Independent Online
MARKHEATH, the property group that is 61 per cent owned by the heavily indebted Australian group Adelaide Steamship, has provided pounds 3.9m against properties it plans to sell, pushing it into a pounds 4.7m loss at the interim stage.

The four properties, in and around London, are still vacant but will be sold as soon as they are let. They have been written down to what the board estimates is a 'realistic value'. The group will revalue the rest of its portfolio at the year-end in March, when further provisions are likely.

Turnover from sales of properties was pounds 3.2m in the six months to September, down from pounds 3.8m last time. Interest charges were pounds 2.4m but are expected to rise to almost pounds 6m in the full year after the group stopped capitalising interest on its pounds 67.4m debt.

'The value of the properties has now reached a point where they appear overvalued, so we could not go on adding interest and overheads,' Ian Creber, the finance director, said.

The group has been in talks with its bankers since it breached its covenants late last year and these are 'progressing in a constructive manner,' Michael Rendle, the chairman, said. A pounds 1m property sale has been completed since the year-end.

Last year it sold its 13 per cent stake in Frogmore Esates back to the company for pounds 13.1m. It also expects a pounds 3m tax rebate on the deal.

The pounds 4.7m loss for the six months to September compares with pounds 459,000 in the previous period and pounds 22.8m for the last full year. There is no dividend (0.5p) and the group says it cannot predict when payments will resume.

At its last year-end it had a pounds 20.8m deficit on distributable reserves. The shares lost 1p to 4.5p.