Mike Ashley criticised by First Property Group for refusing to pay store rents but offering £50m lifeline to Arcadia

Mr Habib told The Telegraph: “I was interested to read that Mr Ashley has offered [Sir] Philip Green a £50m loan. Especially interested, in fact, as Mr Ashley’s Frasers Group currently owes a pension fund, on whose behalf I manage property, hundreds of thousands of pounds in unpaid rent.

“Buying distressed assets and saving jobs is a positive thing. But if you are simultaneously refusing to honour your debts, you are in effect buying them with other people’s capital. In this case, that of vulnerable pensioners. In the midst of a pandemic, this is inexcusable.”

Simon Thompson: A quartet of value opportunities

Writing in Investors Chronicle, Simon Thompson has urged readers to invest in Fprop, highlighting “significant firepower to take advantage of investment opportunities”.

He concludes: “Trading on a modest PE ratio of 9 and offering a near 5 per cent dividend yield, expect the hefty discount to book value to narrow as the cash pile is deployed. Buy.”

Fprop interim results for the six months to 30 September 2020

Interim Results for the six months to 30 September 2020. Download the accompanying presentation here. Presented by Jeremy Barkes, Business Director, Ben Habib, CEO, and Laura James, Finance Director.

Ben Habib on the ‘Share Talk’ Podcast

First Property Group CEO Ben Habib on the Share Talk Ltd podcast.

He said: “We’ve got £21m sitting in the bank and we will deploy that along with our client money to find assets that we think are undervalued or have real growth potential coming out of the pandemic.”

Daily Express: Fprop CEO Calls for Business Rates Reform

Writing in The Daily Express, Fprop CEO Ben Habib renews his calls for business rates reform to aid retail and hospitality.

“Unless action is taken soon, ministers will be directly responsible for a wave of failed firms and redundancies when the rates ‘holiday’ ends,” he says.

Ben Habib: Covid is an opportunity to scrap business rates altogether

Fprop CEO Ben Habib argues that Business Rates tax reform is needed to help tenants, landlords, and the economy during the Coronavirus crisis. 

He writes in City AM: “By its nature, the burden of this tax falls hardest on startups, small companies, and businesses experiencing difficulties. They have little income and often have to bear this tax out of capital — which is also, more often than not, scarce.”

Adding: “Calls for change are growing louder, and will reach a shriek when the March rates reintroduction takes its damaging hold. But by then it will be too late. The government must act now, and act boldly.”

Investors Chronicle Podcast: Fprop share valuation ‘crazy’

Fprop shares were discussed by Simon Thompson and Investors Chronicle Editor John Hughman on “The Alpha Podcast: Bargain hunting.” Listen here from 7:29 to 10:26. 

Thompson says: “Not all companies are actually doing badly… You can stock pick investment opportunities amongst the rubble… This valuation is absolutely crazy…”

Investors Chronicle: “A free ride on profitable businesses”

Simon Thompson covers our shares in Investors Chronicle. He highlights our high rent collection rates and argues that Fprop shares should be worth more. 

He says: “Trading on a 36 per cent discount to net asset value (NAV), and offering a prospective dividend yield of 5 per cent, First Property’s long-term record of value creation for shareholders – the company has posted annualised growth in net assets (including dividends) of 22.7 per cent over the past decade and paid out cumulative dividends of 13.32p a share since I included the shares, at 18.5p, in my 2011 Bargain Shares Portfolio – is completely at odds with the miserly valuation. Buy.”

Fprop PLC Prelim Results 2020: First Property Group

Chief Executive Ben Habib discusses the preliminary results.

Fprop Annual General Meeting: Watch Back Online

Our Annual General Meeting (AGM), held today, can be watched back on the Investor Meet Company website.

The accompanying RNS statement can be viewed by clicking here. The key points were continued high levels of group cash, a maintained dividend, and rent collection rates well above 90% in the UK, Poland, and Romania, despite challenges linked to coronavirus.