Berkeley pledges £1.7bn shareholder payout

Aaron Morby 13 years ago

South East house builder Berkeley Group has unveiled plans to return £1.7bn to shareholders over the next 10 years.

The huge handout, which amounts to a £13 payout to each shareholder, is part of a new 10-year strategy, which will also see a new management bonus scheme introduced to deliver the plan.

Chairman Tony Pidgley said: “I am delighted that in the two years since shareholders supported the board’s proposal to invest at the right point in the cycle, Berkeley has made great progress and acquired a number of excellent sites in London and the South East, committing in excess of £500 million to the land bank in the process and laying the foundation for the next phase of the Group’s strategy.

“The Board’s recommendation to return £13 in cash over the next ten years is the result of these achievements.”

Berkeley has acquired some 3,600 plots across 24 sites, which has raised the value of the group’s land bank rose to £2.3bn, 13% up on a year ago.

In the year ending April, pre-tax profits jumped 23% to £136m on turnover up by the same amount at £742m.

The result leaves Berkeley boasting an operating margin of 18%, the highest among leading house builders.

The group sold 2,544 homes during the year at an average selling price of £271,000, compared with 2,201 units sold at a price of £263,000 the year before.

Also contributing to the rise was the £13.8m made from land sales, compared with none the year before, reflecting the disposal of three sites in the second half.

Berkeley welcome recent Government measures to stimulate the housing market, but warned it was still too early to gauge what impact the localism Bill would have on future building.

Managing director, Rob Perrins said: “There are now considerably less public funds available to contribute to the financing of affordable housing and this, together with escalating other S106 requirements will threaten the commercial viability of some schemes.”

“The combination of these two factors allied to the localism will impact on housing supply.”

“By investing in the land bank early in the cycle during the last two years and taking out the planning risk wherever possible, the group is now well positioned to deliver further growth in earnings to the extent market conditions allow.

“The focus of the long term strategy is turning this tactical advantage into strong and tangible returns for shareholders over the next 10 years.”

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