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Four Things You Didn't Know About Bruntwood's Finances

Bruntwood Chief Executive Chris Oglesby

So we have the latest Bruntwood financials, and they are predictably strong.

Assets under management increased from £1.09B in 2017 to £1.27B and shareholder’s funds rose to £570M from £513M in 2017. Gearing also fell, with borrowing as a proportion of value reduced to less than 45%.

After a year in which Bruntwood signed a new partnership with Legal & General, and took control of new assets in Birmingham, the portfolio now stands at more than 100 buildings. During 2018, £19.3M was invested in capital improvements and refurbishments, up from £17.3M in 2017. A further £49M was invested in developments.

But buried in the Bruntwood annual accounts were some fascinating details, and here's the Bisnow rundown of the top four.

1. Above-Trend Rate Of Return

UK prime office yields hover around 4.75%, with the cost of borrowing running about half this level, making property a profoundly appealing option. Yet Bruntwood manage an average valuation yield closer to 8%. A clear example of the opportunities that come from investing outside London, Bruntwood said.

2. Net Asset Value Rises Faster Than Property Valuations

Net asset value increased to £503M, up 16%, whilst property valuations increased by only 5%. "This is clear evidence of our customer focused business model creating value through development and asset management which in turn has led to an increase in occupancy of our buildings," Bruntwood Chief Executive Chris Oglesby said in his introduction to the annual report.

3. A Bit More Risky

The report says that Bruntwood "operates most effectively" when 10% to 15% of the portfolio is in development of one kind or another. However, a series of partnerships with hospitals, local councils and universities (such as the 100K SF Citylabs 3.0 in Manchester, due for completion in 2020), means the figure is closer to 20% to 25% in the next two to three years. Bruntwood "continues to explore and find ways of de-risking this activity" the report said. Prelets and new capital partners to share the risk are envisaged, it added.

4. They Don't Pay Much Tax

UK corporation tax is 19.5% but after reports of the super-low tax takes of some major corporations, one begins to wonder if there is any business in the UK that actually pays it at that rate. Bruntwood certainly don't: they say they handed over £900K in tax on profits on £71.9M, which they calculate to be an effective tax rate of 1.27%, due to indexation allowances and capital losses offsetting profits generated through capital disposals.