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Wichford PLC (WICH)

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Friday 19 August, 2011

Wichford PLC

Interim Management Statement

RNS Number : 6156M
Wichford plc
19 August 2011

Wichford P.L.C.

("Wichford" or the "Company")


Interim Management Statement


19 August 2011


The Board of Wichford P.L.C., the property investment company, today issues the following Interim Management Statement relating to the period 1 April 2011 to 18 August 2011.




The second half of the financial year has been focused on the merger with Redefine International plc ("Redefine") and it is pleasing to have received strong shareholder support with all resolutions receiving over 99% of the votes cast in favour of the transaction at the Extraordinary General Meeting ("EGM") held on the 4 August 2011. Further details are contained below.


The covenant strength of our predominantly government tenant base continues to produce stable cashflows and trading performance has remained robust.  The implementation of the UK Government's comprehensive spending review and generally weak occupier demand in most regional centres has, however, placed increased risk on lease renewals and re-lettings. Asset management activities in the period focussed on protecting current and future occupancy.


Property Portfolio


Asset management initiatives


Lyon House and Equitable House, Harrow


The Company remains on track to submit a full planning application for a residential mixed-use scheme of approximately 250,000 sq ft on the former HMRC occupied site. Discussions with the London Borough of Harrow and Design for London are progressing in line with expectations. Subject to further consultations with local stakeholders, the Company anticipates submitting a planning application in the coming months.


Ongoing discussions to secure a Registered Social Landlord for the affordable housing element of the scheme are at an advanced stage. A development agreement for approximately 70,000 sq ft of affordable accommodation is anticipated to be concluded before submitting the planning application.


Sapphire House, Telford


The lease to Tatung (UK) Limited, with a remaining term of six years, has been surrendered in return for a tenant's surrender premium of £5.0 million and the transfer of all rights against the outgoing sub-tenant (MoD) for dilapidations liabilities.  




Occupancy weakened to 93.3% (March 2011: 96.2%), largely as a result of the lease surrender negotiated at Telford. In addition, the non-renewal of some smaller office units and the anticipated vacancy of two floors at Coventry Road, Birmingham contributed to the decrease in occupancy. The above occupancy rate includes the vacant space at Equitable House and Lyon House, Harrow which is no longer available to let as the site is being prepared for redevelopment. Occupancy excluding Equitable House and Lyon House stands at 96.5% (March 2011: 98.8%).


Rent Reviews


The proportion of the portfolio subject to CPI / RPI indexation or fixed increases remained broadly unchanged at 62.8%. Inflation in the UK remains well above the Bank of England's 2.0% target benefitting rent reviews subject to CPI or RPI.


The following rent reviews were settled or are in the process of being agreed:


·      Aberdeen - open market review agreed and completed at £510,000 p.a. up from £478,250 p.a., reflecting an increase of 6.6%

·      Bradford - RPI rent review with anticipated increase from £1,750,000 p.a. to £2,009,656 p.a., representing a 14.8% uplift


There have been no acquisitions or disposals in the period since 31 March 2011.


Cash Position and Dividend


The interim dividend of 0.32 pence per share totaling £3.40 million was paid on 29 June 2011 to all shareholders on the register on 3 June 2011.


As at the date of this announcement the Company has approximately £36.0 million of available cash.


Debt Facilities


VBG2 Facility


Following the maturity of the VBG 2 facility in April 2011, the borrowers have agreed to a Standstill Agreement with the facility servicer and are currently exploring opportunities for a consensual sales process. This is in line with the previously communicated strategy to pursue opportunities for an orderly exit from Continental Europe.


A potential sale would remove the existing negative net asset value position of approximately £10.1 million (approximately 0.95p per share) without any negative impact on cashflows as all rental income is currently utilised to meet property expenses, interest and principal debt repayments.


The €52.8 million outstanding on this facility is secured against two German properties in Cologne and Stuttgart.





The boards of Wichford and Redefine announced on 13 July 2011 that they had reached agreement on the terms of a recommended all share offer to be made by Wichford for the entire issued and to be issued ordinary share capital of Redefine.


All of the resolutions in connection with the merger and proposed at the EGM held on 4 August 2011 were passed without amendment by the required majority. Full results of the EGM are available on the Company website


On 18 August 2011 Redefine Properties International Limited ("RIN"), the company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange which owns 82% of the issued share capital of Redefine, announced that at a general meeting of linked unitholders held on that day, all the special and ordinary resolutions in connection with the merger were passed unanimously. RIN will now notify Wichford of its acceptance of the Offer.  A copy of the announcement can be found on the Company website


The admission of the enlarged company to the main market of the London Stock Exchange is expected to take place on 23 August 2011 subject to all necessary regulatory and admission requirements being met.


The following ISIN, TIDIM and SEDOL references will be adopted:


ISIN:            IM00B4JZYL28

TIDIM:          RDI

SEDOL:         B4JZYL2


Redefine intends to cancel its admission to trading on AIM which is expected to become effective on 8 September 2011. Following the cancellation of Redefine's AIM admission, the Company will change its name to Redefine International P.L.C.




Occupier and investment demand for regional office assets is likely to remain subdued with pressures on public sector budgets and individuals' disposable incomes set to continue. The focus remains on protecting occupancy and rental income and repositioning assets with better alternative uses, or disposing of those assets with limited growth potential. 


The merger with Redefine will enhance the Company's ability to support this strategy with a larger, well diversified asset base and the support and capital commitment from its largest shareholder.


Philippe de Nicolay, Chairman of Wichford commented:


"I am pleased that shareholders have voted in support of the merger with Redefine. Following a detailed strategic review, the Board believes the merger will create an enlarged, income-focused property company with a diversified property portfolio and an improved capital structure. The merger includes a significant capital commitment from Redefine Properties International Limited reflecting their support for the enlarged company."



For further details, please contact, 


Wichford P.L.C.

Philippe de Nicolay

00 33 1 40 74 42 79

Wichford Property Management Ltd

Mike Watters

020 7811 0100

Stephen Oakenfull

020 7811 0100

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

020 7638 9571

Toby Mountford

Kate Lehane


Wichford P.L.C. (UK Listed: WICH) is a property investment company, with a portfolio focused on investment property occupied primarily by Central and State Government bodies. Over three quarters of the portfolio comprises public sector rented properties in the UK with the remainder in Germany and the Netherlands.


This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange