Henry Boot takes cautious approach

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SHEFFIELD-based property development and investment firm Henry Boot today said it was concerned about volatilty in capital markets.

In an interim management statement for the period from July 1, the company said that its property development and investment, construction and plant hire activities continued to trade in line with the board’s expectations.

The statement added: “Within Hallam Land Management, our land promotion business, land sales were concluded at Rugby, Oxford and Countesthorpe. These transactions achieved somewhat better profits than anticipated and, as a consequence, we expect trading to be slightly ahead of the board’s expectations for the year ending December 31 2011.

“Trading conditions remain relatively stable, albeit subdued, in line with those experienced over the last two years and the directors do not expect any significant change in conditions during 2012. However, the recent volatility in capital markets does give us cause for concern, particularly if the European sovereign debt crisis leads to a further weakening in the ability of UK banks to provide funding to the UK property market.

“Given this potential risk to our markets, the board remains cautious in its approach and is currently operating the group with net cash while retaining unutilised banking facilities of £50m. Notwithstanding this caution, if the market continues to be stable, we have a number of retail, commercial and industrial development opportunities, substantially pre-let, due to commence in 2012 on which we expect to achieve a fair, risk-weighted return.”

The company said it was working on a number of site acquisitions or option agreements across the country.