BT pension scheme MEPC property developer sold to Hermes

Hermes Investment Management has acquired MEPC, the UK property developer owned by the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS).

Hermes, which was formerly owned by BTPS, and GE Real Estate took MEPC private in 2000 as each acquired 50% of the company. Three years later, Hermes bought GE’s stake.

 

In April 2018, Federated Investors acquired a majority interest in Hermes from BTPS.

Hermes said today it is acquiring MEPC in a deal that “enhances Hermes Real Estate’s proposition by adding specialist asset and development management expertise to its existing capabilities”.

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Chris Taylor, CEO of Hermes Real Estate, said: “There are many synergies between the two brands and an already long-lasting and successful relationship, which can now be built upon further.”

James Dipple, CEO of MEPC, said: “This is an exciting transaction for MEPC, allowing us to combine our long track record of success with a leading real estate investment manager.

“Our strategic ambitions for the future are fully aligned with those of Hermes and, therefore, a strong basis for the growth of MEPC.”

A spokesperson for Hermes and MEPC said: “Having Hermes as MEPC’s parent company provides a long-term basis for its future growth with little disruption to day-to-day business. Certain investments processes are already integrated with those of Hermes.

“This acquisition greatly enhances our real estate proposition by adding specialist asset and development management expertise.

“In particular, it supports our core strategy of creating urban regeneration schemes, which not only deliver attractive financial returns but will have a positive impact on the environment and communities in which they are located – a key market differentiator for the business ahead.”

Source: IPE Real Asset

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LRG acquires Dunlop Heywood in a surprise move into commercial property

The Leaders Romans Group has extended its activities into the commercial world with the acquisition of chartered surveying company Dunlop Heywood.

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Dunlop Heywood – established in 2008 – specialises in business rates liability and advises a wide range of clients in the aviation, docks and harbours, energy and renewables, retail and leisure sectors.

Agency group makes surprise move into commercial propertyLRG chief executive Peter Kavanagh says: “This is a fantastic acquisition for LRG, which will further enhance the range of expert property services we can offer our clients. Dunlop Heywood has a very well established market reputation for providing expert rating advice, and I am confident … we will be able to grow the business in the coming years.”

Breakdown of Trafford Council property investment of over £200m in 2019

Trafford Council in Greater Manchester, UK spent £103.4 million on purchasing and investing in property in 2019 as part of its finance strategy.

The authority has spent the cash in the hope of bringing in greater returns for council tax payers through interest on loans and from profits on any future sales of property assets, as well as supporting ongoing regeneration across Trafford.

CIS Tower part of Trafford Council property investment

Some of the money used to make these investments has come from a central government borrowing fund which offers low interest rates for local authorities and encourages them to invest in property.

The rest has come from within the council’s budget using council tax.

In total, Trafford has purchased five properties this year for a total of £50.8 million and made loans as part of its property investment strategy totalling £102.6 million.

The council bought the following properties in 2019:

  • Lacey Street Royal Mail depot, Stretford (bought for £800,000)
  • Stretford Mall (bought as part of £50 million deal with developers Bruntwood: £25 million to cover the council’s half of the purchase, a further £25 million was loaned to Bruntwood to cover their half of the costs)
  • Stamford Quarter shopping centre, Altrincham (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Clarendon House (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Sainsbury’s Altrincham (bought for £25million)
The old Kellogg’s site in Stretford – Trafford council property development 

 

The council loaned money to owners or developers for the following properties:

  • CIS Tower, Miller Street, Manchester city centre (loan of £60 million to owners for refinancing and refurbishing the building)
  • Four office buildings off Albert Square, Manchester city centre (loan of £17.6 million as property investment)
  • Stamford Quarter, Altrincham (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of £100million purchase deal)
  • Stretford Mall (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)
  • Clarendon House (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)

The grand total of more than £203 million spent this year doesn’t include a further £2.5 million loaned to Trafford Leisure to support two leisure centres in Altrincham and Urmston.

The council made clear that the loan wasn’t part of the council’s investment strategy, but to support the centres and give staff their first pay increase in years.

Other ongoing development projects that the council has on its books include the former Kellogg’s factory site in Stretford that was bought for £12 million back in September 2017.

The site is expected to include 750 homes, an 100-bedroom hotel and a primary school once development work is finished.

Plans to merge two primary schools, knock down their 100-year-old building and replace it with a brand new 21-classroom school in Altrincham are also on the cards.

The council is still in talks with Stamford Park Infants and Junior Schools after an offer of £8 million to build a new school on the site was turned down twice.

Source: Manchester Evening News

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Property funds remains closed despite M&G raising £70m

M&G has extended the suspension to dealing in its £2.5 billion Property Portfolio fund, which blocked investors from withdrawing their cash last month.

The fund group said it had raised £70 million after completing the sale of the Ravenside Retail Park in Edmonton and exchange contracts on the disposal of an office block in Staines. A further £67 million is in the pipeline from properties ‘either under offer or in solicitors’ hands’, the fund group said.

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‘The immediate priority is to raise cash levels in a controlled manner,’ the fund group said in an update to investors. ‘The fund managers and associated teams are working hard to increase the fund’s cash position.’

The total £138 million of sales would more than double the cash level in the fund, which stood at 4.8% of the fund at the end of November, or around £120 million.

But that would still be well below the heavy holdings of a number of rival property funds, of which some have more than a quarter of their assets in cash.

The Ravenside Retail Park sale will meanwhile chip away at the fund’s large weighting to the under-pressure retail sector, which amounted to 34% of the fund’s assets at the end of November, higher than that of most rivals.

M&G was forced to suspend dealing last month after suffering nearly £1 billion of withdrawals in the space of 12 months. The fund fell 8% over the last year and is kept off the bottom of the Investment Association’s UK Direct Property sector only by the Aberdeen UK Property fund.

Source: Citywire Funds insider

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UK Babycare retailer Mamas & Papas has gone into pre-pack administration

British maternity chain Mamas & Papas has reached out to administrators as part of an effort to stem losses in a ‘pre-pack’ deal with administrators Deloitte, resulting in six store closures in the UK and dozens of job losses.

The struggling retailer is the second babycare brand to call in administrators this week after rival Mothercare announced the closure of all 79 of its UK stores on Tuesday.

The ‘pre-pack’ deal between company owners Bluegem Capital, which acquired Mamas & Papas in 2014, and administrators Deloitte aims to cut store losses by selling off assets to other companies within the Mamas & Papas Group.

Six unprofitable stores in Aberdeen, Preston, Milton Keynes, Lincoln, Leamington Spa and Fareham have now closed with 73 members of staff losing their jobs.

A further 54 jobs are at risk as the store looks to “review and simplify” operations at its head office in Huddersfield.

The company says its 26 remaining stores will continue to trade as normal and online orders are unaffected by today’s announcement.

Riccardo Cincotta, Executive Chairman of Mamas & Papas, said: “These actions are always difficult but they are also necessary in a challenging market to ensure Mamas & Papas achieves its considerable future potential.

“We remain fully focused on maintaining our position as the UK’s most popular nursery brand.

Source: Manchester Evening News