Benchmark in exclusive talks with GE Real Estate over

Benchmark Group plc, the specialist Central London property company, said it entered into exclusive bid talks with GE Real Estate.

GERE will complete due diligence of Benchmark with a view to making an offer for the company at 280 pence per share and for the company´s 5.75 pct Convertible Unsecured Loan Stock 2013 at around 103 stg per 100 stg nominal of stock.

Friends Provident PLC and GuocoLand Ltd, which control 69 pct of Benchmark´s issued share capital and 50 pct of the outstanding stock, have said they intend to accept an offer on the above terms.

Benchmark today announced its first-half results, which showed a diluted net asset value of 281.1 at the end of December, up from 279.5 at the end of June. Pretax profits totalled 11.9 mln stg in the six months to December, up from 3.6 mln last year.

Profit after tax and minority interests increased to £14.9m from 1.4m, mainly as a result of the £7.9m lease assignment premium received from Visa International at 99/121 Kensington High Street and the release of tax provisions of £8.5m.

EPS increased to 15.3 pence from 1.5. Net rental income grew to 29.3 mln stg from 26.3 mln. The company is paying an unchanged dividend of 1.95 pence.

Benchmark said in the past few weeks there has been increasing interest from potential occupiers seeking modern offices in the West End of London.

Source: Freeman News

Related News