Railtrack's six-year stint as a public company came to an end yesterday after shares in the failed rail infrastructure company were delisted from the London Stock Exchange.
The company also announced it had agreed to sell its remaining property interests, RT Group Developments, to the property developer Hammerson for a total of £63m.
Shares in Railtrack, which have traded under the name RT Group since its main operating company went into liquidation, closed up 1.5p to close at 253p – some 33 per cent below the price at which it was sold to retail investors in 1996. More than 27 million shares in the company changed hands, making it the second most heavily traded stock on the London market yesterday, after Vodafone.
Those still holding shares at the close of play yesterday afternoon will be eligible for a cash payout from the company's liquidator, Deloitte & Touche. It expects to return a total of between 252p and 260p a share to shareholders with the first payment of 200p due on 10 January and the balance expected by the end of 2003.
A private shareholder action group is, however, unhappy with the level of the payout and is trying to raise some £2m to bring legal action against the Government.
Shares in Railtrack – which was privatised by the Major government and put into administration by Stephen Byers, the Labour Transport Secretary, in October last year – peaked at more than £17 four years ago but fell dramatically after the Hatfield rail crash in 2000.
RT Group said yesterday that the sale of its remaining property interests, which is due to complete on 28 February, was not expected to change the size of the cash pay-out to shareholders.
The sale of RT Group Developments, which owns a portfolio of 24 development sites, attracted more than 40 expressions of interest, it said. "The disposal of RDL was very competitive and we are delighted that we have been able to secure a result ahead of expectations," said Jamie Smith, joint liquidator of RT Group.
The property portfolio that Hammerson is buying from Railtrack includes sites in London's Victoria Station, Shoreditch High Street in London's East End and in Cricklewood town centre and it generates an annual rental income of about £600,000.
Hammerson said yesterday it was selling seven of the Railtrack properties to Ballymore Properties, a private development company based in Dublin, for £27m.
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