HSBC an unexpected windfall. The bank had its Canary
Wharf headquarters purchased by the Spanish property company
Metrovacesa (which used debt provided by HSBC) in the
summer for 1.09 billion pounds. The slump in the building's
value since then has substantially reduced the equity provided
by Metrovacesa. The two institutions have agreed that HSBC will
buy the building back for 838 million pounds, meaning a 250
million pound loss for Metrovacesa. 'Clearly the market has
deteriorated significantly since we agreed the sale in the
spring of 2007', stated David Hodgkinson, HSBC chief operating
officer. 'It was important to work with our client.to resolve
the funding issue which had arisen'.
WISDEN IN CHANGE OF ENDS FROM GETTY TO BLOOMSBURY
Bloomsbury Publishing has purchased John Wisden &
Co., the publisher of the annual cricketing 'almanack', for five
million pounds. Wisden was owned by Sir Paul Getty from 1993
until his death in 2003, but his son Mark has elected to sell
the business to Bloomsbury. The editor of the annual, Scyld
Berry, welcomed the deal. 'The primary thing is that, I trust,
it will maintain the independence of Wisden as the impartial
voice of cricket', he remarked. 'There is so much money in
cricket and so many vested interests that it is important that
it should remain as the lone honest broker of the game'.
MARSTON'S WARNS TOUGH YEAR AHEAD AS PROFITS TUMBLE
The brewer Marston's has blamed various factors
including poor weather, a rise in operating costs, the smoking
ban and the financial downturn for its sharp fall in profit and
the strong likelihood of a poor 2009 for the company. Marston's
nevertheless maintained its final year dividend, much to the
relief of its investors. 'The underlying cash flow of the
business is strong, we've got no immediate refinancing
requirements, and we have got significant headroom available
under our bank facilities', commented Chief Executive Ralph
Findlay. Shares closed up seven pence at 106 pence.
BERKELEY HAILS CASH 'EMPEROR' POSITION
Berkeley has managed to become the sole large
housebuilder in the UK with a net cash position, after
announcing a relatively mild 12 percent fall in pre-tax profits
and 138.2 million pounds in net cash in the six months to
October 30th. The company also stated that it was optimistic
about resisting adverse market conditions and keeping its profit
margins within a target range of 17.5-19.5 percent. Finance
Director Rob Perrins proposed refusing to build affordable
housing in their developments as one means by which they could
keep their margins high.
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