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11 April 2004
Sunday Herald
Manor Kingdom banks on England for land acquistions with HBoS deal

LUXURY housebuilder Manor Kingdom has struck a deal with the HBoS for a forward facility worth tens of millions of pounds to help finance its expansion into England.

Chief executive Keith Punler confirmed the Dunfermline firm was looking for sites or company acquisitions south of the Border. 'This will be funded partially by this facility and continuing relationship with the Bank of Scotland.'

A portion of the facility has also been used to buy out the bank's 50% stake in joint-venture property company Uberior. Now renamed Manor Kingdom Developments, the new entity aims to capitalise on an existing Scottish landbank estimated to have an end value of 300m. Punler said: 'This enlarged funding facility will allow us to become more involved in mixed-use developments combining residential, commercial retail and leisure uses.'

In one proposed scheme in Aberdeen, expected to receive planning permission, more than 250 homes would be sited alongside tennis courts and playing fields, as well as a nursing home and business space. Manor Kingdom plans to enter into joint-venture agreements with leisure specialists to carry out other developments.

Separately, Manor Kingdom Group revealed a net loss of 900,000 on overall turnover of 24.2m for its 2002 annual results. The company obtained permission from Companies House to file its accounts late while it finalised its buy-out of BoS's stake in Uberior.

Punler said that the loss reflected exceptional write-downs associated with its 25m acquisition of rival housebuilder St Andrew, start-up costs for Manor Kingdom's manufacturing business, and relocation and fit-out costs associated with its new HQ. These figures do not include the 173,000 profits generated by several other companies.

A total of nine companies have since been amalgamated into three, each trading autonomously under the Manor Kingdom Group. Punler said the 2003 financial results to be filed before October would show it moving towards profitability. He expects this year to reap the rewards of restructuring, expansion and the recruitment of three senior executives. Turnover is projected to increase by 35% to over 45m in 2004.

Punler said: 'We've built this business not for short-term gains but to be around for the long-term. We're very confident about what lies ahead.'

JULIA FIELDS



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