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Whateley leads the charge in retail shopping investment.

West Midlands-based busi-nessman Grahame Whateley is at the centre of a ground-breaking initiative in retail shopping investment.

Mr Whateley, who chairs the Halesowen-based property development company Castlemore Securities, is the chairman and prime mover behind the initial public offering and share listing of the Local Shopping REIT (LSR).

LSR, a property investment company which intends to become a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) after the IPO, is aiming to become a UK market leader in investing in neighbourhood and specialist properties in urban areas.

LSR is expected to be the first REIT to be listed on the London Stock Exchange after the IPO and conversion of the company to its new status.

The company's interests revolve around properties such as neighbourhood venues for convenience stores or "top-up" shopping. It has been investing in suitable properties since it was formed in January 2005.

Yesterday's announcement means that LSR is to list on the UK market at a share price of 174p when dealings open on May 2.

The funds raised by the IPO, pounds 160 million, are to be used to finance acquisitions that are already in the pipeline and the future expansion of the portfolio.

The company already plans to invest a further pounds 143 million by September 2008. LSR is to be managed by Mike Riley and Nick Gregory, both former directors of Castlemore Securities, of which Mr Whateley was the founder and where he remains chairman and principal shareholder.

Castlemore's parent company, Castlemore Holdings, has owned the ordinary share capital of LSR since its formation over two years ago, along with Mr Riley and Mr Gregory. Mr Whateley said: "LSR will offer investors access to a highly diversified portfolio of local and neighbourhood retail property assets which, for the first time, will be professionally managed on significant scale.

"We are confident that our highly experienced management team has the ability to add real value in terms of both capital and income growth, as well as continuing to identify a further pipeline of acquisitions across the UK." Mr Riley said: "We aim to maximise our advantage of being the first mover in this sector, which has traditionally seen little input from institutional investors and managers, to continue to grow and manage the portfolio." The company has built up a portfolio of 484 assets (1,409 rental units), valued at pounds 207.7 million. The estimated net rental income was pounds 13.8 million with a targeted gross dividend yield of 4.75 per cent on listing.


Pictured left to right are: Mike Riley, Grahame Whateley and Nick Gregory
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 13, 2007
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