Liberty International rises on FTSE

Posted On Friday, 15 November 2002 10:01 Published by Commercial Property News
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UK property group Liberty International has seen its ranking on the FTSE-100 index rise to number 88 this week from number 96 last week based on market capitalization, thus much improving the group's chances of its...

Donald GordonUK property group Liberty International has seen its ranking on the FTSE-100 index rise to number 88 this week from number 96 last week based on market capitalization, thus much improving the group's chances of its formal inclusion in the index at the next review date in December.

The group's ranking was improved by its successful raising of 159 million sterling through a private share placing on Nov. 6. It is listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa, and the new shares were allotted and listed on both exchanges on Wednesday.

As a result of the placing, through which the Gordon Family Trust acquired 8 million of the new shares, the Gordon family now holds 62.7 million Liberty International shares, representing 20% of its issued ordinary share capital.

In a letter to shareholders released on Thursday on the JSE Securities Exchange's news service, Liberty International Chairman Donald Gordon said that despite the turbulent and volatile conditions currently prevailing in the world's financial and securities markets, the company's chosen sectors in the real estate markets, notably its shopping centre and retail business, which comprise around 90% of the group's total assets, had continued to produce a very sound outcome, 'demonstrating the exceptional resilience of our prime regional shopping centre assets'.

'Dilution of net asset value per share from the placing will be minimal and will, we believe, be more than compensated by the longer term benefits and improved prospects for the Group from the promising projects on which we are now embarked which should be positive for both growth and shareholder value,' he told shareholders.

'The strengthening of the Group's capital base as a result of the placing will facilitate the significant range of attractive investment and development projects now open to us. Collectively, these transactions represent a major extension and consolidation of our established and premier nationwide franchise in the UK regional shopping center industry.'

Liberty CEO David Fischel told I-Net Bridge last week he believed the highly successful share placing should bump the former South African group up a few notches. The proceeds from the placing would be used to meet existing investment and development programme commitments as well as finance any future projects.

'The placing should improve Liberty International's ranking with a possible outcome of entry into the FTSE-100 Index, which the company considers should have a desirable result of enhancing its profile with the London and international investment communities, and should increase the liquidity of the company's ordinary shares,' Fischel said.

The group owns leading U.K. regional shopping centre business Capital Shopping Centres plc and Capital & Counties plc, a long-established commercial and retail property investment and development company.

Excluding the Victoria Centre in Nottingham, which the group this week became the sole owner of, through an investment of about 157 million sterling, Liberty International also has other commitments totalling about 500 million sterling.

These include the 85 million sterling extension of the MetroCentre in Gateshead - Britain's largest regional shopping centre - a 275 million sterling commitment to Chapelfield, a regional shopping centre development in Norwich, Norfolk, further development of Braehead in Glascow, and increasing CSC's holding in The Potteries at Stoke-on-Trent from 35% to 50% at a cost of about 32 million sterling.

'Also lurking in the slightly longer term we have two excellent projects in Cardiff and Oxford and these two will obviously also have to be financed,' Fischel said.

The major regional shopping centre projects in Cardiff and Oxford are at various stages of the planning process. The group is also looking at other opportunities, including at Eldon Square in Newcastle.

'We have more than enough on our plate at the moment. It's been a very busy year,' Fischel added.

Earlier this year, the group acquired the Serramonte Shopping Centre in the US West Coast city of San Francisco for $119 million and King's Reach, Southwark, in London for 70 million sterling.

Last modified on Saturday, 25 May 2013 02:31

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