The Berkeley Group Holdings plc today announces its Interim Management Statement in respect of the period from 1 November 2012 to 28 February 2013.
Berkeley remains on course to return £568 million (approx. €663.4 million) in cash to shareholders by no later than the first milestone date of 30 September 2015 and, as announced on 7 December 2012, the Board has declared an interim dividend of 15 pence per ordinary share which will be paid on 19 April 2013 to shareholders on the register on 22 March 2013. This dividend will contribute approximately £20 million (approx. €23.36 million) towards the £568 million (approx. €663.4 million) target and is the first return to shareholders since Berkeley repositioned the business in March 2009 and invested some £1 billion in new land at the right point in the cycle.
Berkeley's operating model places an emphasis on adding value throughout the development cycle whilst recognizing the risks of operating in a cyclical market. This requires a collaborative approach to creating places which involves local communities, councils and businesses, and a passion for exceptional design to provide the homes in which our customers want to live.
It is this emphasis which has helped Berkeley secure eight further planning consents since the Half Year including recent resolutions to grant planning on two London schemes, at Hampton House on Albert Embankment and Sovereign Court in Hammersmith. These successes have secured additional value in Berkeley's land bank as well as reducing planning risk and underpinning the Group's ability to deliver against its long term plan subject to market conditions.
In the period Berkeley has also acquired three new sites at Finchley, Mill Hill and Maidenhead. These acquisitions, together with our continued drive to add value through optimization which is expected to maintain the momentum reported in the first half, give the Board confidence towards achieving its target of 10% growth in the land bank for the full year.
The market for new homes in London and the South East is still characterized by a shortage of supply at all price levels, albeit that this market is affected by the drag on demand caused by restrictions on mortgage availability and increased regulation. In this environment, Berkeley has continued to carefully match its investment in work in progress with forward sales which are now in excess of £1.4 billion, a balance which will remain the key determinant of future growth.
Berkeley is currently ungeared and has a strong land bank in place, factors that give the Board confidence that it will meet expectations for the year ending 30 April 2013 and its long term plan to return £13 (approx. €15.2) per share to shareholders.