Ashtenne first half pretax profits up 60%

Ashtenne Holdings PLC, which reported a rise in interim pretax profit, said 2003 will be another successful year for the company. In a statement releasing its interim results, chairman James Hambro said the new capital in the Ashtenne Industrial Fund gives it the resources to expand when opportunities arise.

In the six months to June, sales came in at 10.182 mln stg against 10.891 mln, while pretax profit surged to 9.18 mln stg from 5.74 mln the previous year. The results exclude Ashtenne´s recent acquisition of Birkby Ltd and InShops Ltd businesses for 182 mln stg, which concluded on July 31, 2003. Nevertheless, the purchases will significantly enhance the prospects for the group, Hambro said. Interim dividend rose to 3.8 pence from 3.5 pence while net gearing rose from zero at end June to 47 pct at Sept 23.

As at end June, the Ashtenne property portfolio, either owned, co-owned or under management, amounted to 600 mln stg, with an annual rent roll of 49.2 mln stg, a current yield of 8.2 pct. The portfolio includes 16.3 mln sq ft of buildings, of which 2.4 mln sq ft or 15 pct is vacant, with a potential additional rental income from that vacant space of 8.5 mln per annum. Additionally, there are 674 acres of undeveloped land. During the six months, net occupancy of the estate increased by 360,000 sq ft, or 1.5 pct of its vacant space at the start of the year.

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