Belfast Telegraph

Interest charges cost Donegall Place Investments £13m

By john simpson

Donegall Place Investments is a large Northern Ireland controlled joint venture business which has wide ranging interests in property development and trading, along with property investments held to earn rental returns, recorded as valued at over £180m.

The registered accounts include the consolidated results for its wholly owned subsidiary, Bow Street Mall in Lisburn. The property portfolio also includes assets outside Northern Ireland.

Over 95% of the main turnover comes as rental receipts and service charges on leased property.

In addition, DPI is a 50% partner in another property company, Merset Properties. If exceptional items are excluded, the operating results for DPI show an operating profit, before interest, in the most recent registered accounts of £13.4m. This operating profit is before making an adjustment for the valuation of investment properties of £1.2m. In the previous year, an exceptional charge of £52.2m was deducted to allow for impairment charges on investment properties along with provision for a write-off on loans.

The underlying current pre-tax operations of the property management business became loss making in the year to September 2008 and the loss rose sharply in the years ending in September 2010 and 2011.

During the years 2005 to 2007, DPI expanded its property portfolio and increased its bank borrowing from £232m in September 2005 to £285m in September 2007. In four more recent years, borrowed finance increased to £301m in September 2011. Borrowed finance increased further to £301m in September 2011.

Interest charges cost the company over £13m in 2012.

The balance sheet value of the properties owned by DPI peaked at £408m in September 2007. In September 2012, bank borrowing at £270m sat alongside a balance sheet valuation of fixed assets of £181m. In consequence, the value of shareholders' funds became a negative figure of £73m.

Belfast Telegraph