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.

Permitted Development Rights legislation should be relaxed even more so offices can adapt to Covid.

Fprop CEO Ben Habib writes in The Property Chronicle: “The only way to continue getting new homes on the market is by continuing to deregulate planning law.”

He adds: “Should widespread working from home… lead to an increase in the office vacancy rate, it would make sense to convert the excess supply to alternate uses. This would help the office market to adjust in line with demand and deliver housing.”

Read the article by clicking here.

BEN HABIB: Poland’s rise seems inexorable

Writing in the quarterly magazine Property Chronicle, Fprop CEO Ben Habib argues that Poland is bouncing back from the Coronavirus crisis faster than most nations in Europe and is increasingly attractive to investors.

A PDF of the article can be viewed by clicking here.

STATEMENT: The moratorium on rent enforcement must end.

Fprop has published a statement on the moratorium on rent enforcement, calling for it to end. Martin Pryce, a Director and Fund Manager at First Property Group, said:

“For six months, the property industry—and by extension the pensioners and others on whose behalf it invests—have been shouldering the extra burden of unpaid rents as other sectors have been offered aid. This isn’t fair. The moratorium on rent enforcement must end or we will be unable to collect as normal for a third quarter.

“Abruptly extending the moratorium for a second time would simply delay the final reckoning, with tenants accruing debt and landlords put under strain. As the Prime Minister said when arguing against extending the furlough scheme, it is simply “keeping people in suspended animation”.

“As we leave the EU, the government must be seen to be on the side of business to ensure continued investment. Landlords, investors, and developers must now be treated with parity and allowed to return to normal like other sectors.”

BEN HABIB: We should welcome the end of the ‘open-ended’​ property fund

CEO Ben Habib pens an article on why First Property Group welcomes the Financial Conduct Authority’s move to curtail “open-ended” funds.

The article – titled “We should welcome the end of the ‘open-ended’​ property fund” – was written for React News and republished on LinkedIn. 

Disaster awaits after lockdown, unless we plan for the end of furloughing

The ending of the furlough scheme poses the biggest problem facing the country if not addressed as we exit lockdown. 

Fprop CEE Snapshot – Q1 2020