Soros builds stake in property firm

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BILLIONAIRE investor George Soros has built a stake of more than 5 per cent in the UK’s only listed property company that produced a negative total return in 2012, due to its unfashionable bet on the long-term health of the economy outside London.

The man who made his name by betting Britain would leave the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 bought the stake in Development Securities through his Quantum fund.

Development Securities shares fell 4.7 per cent in 2012 as it refused to borrow excessively or chase central London deals, as part of a strategy that chief executive Michael Marx has termed “more tortoise than hare”.

The developer has investments in Southampton, Slough, Glasgow, Dorset, Winchester and Manchester but none apparently in Yorkshire.

“The Quantum Fund is looking for ugly frogs under stones that everyone’s missed,” said a source close to the deal. “Given where the property market is, you could argue there is downside risk in London and upside risk everywhere else.”