Carney: UK is ‘investment banker for Europe’

The governor of the Bank of England has repeated his calls for a “smooth and orderly” UK exit from the EU, saying that a transition out of the bloc will happen, it was just a case of “when and how”. Responding to the BoE’s latest bank stress tests, where lenders overall emerged with more resilient […]

Continue Reading


China capital curbs reflect buyer’s remorse over market reforms

Last year the reformist head of China’s central bank convinced his Communist party bosses to give market forces a bigger say in setting the renminbi’s daily “reference rate” against the US dollar. In return, Zhou Xiaochuan assured his more conservative party colleagues that the redback would finally secure coveted recognition as an official reserve currency […]

Continue Reading

Capital Markets

Mnuchin expected to be Trump’s Treasury secretary

Donald Trump has chosen Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary, US media outlets reported on Tuesday, positioning the former Goldman Sachs banker to be the latest Wall Street veteran to receive a top administration post. Mr Mnuchin chairs both Dune Capital Management and Dune Entertainment Partners and has been a longtime business associate of Mr […]

Continue Reading


Financial system more vulnerable after Trump victory, says BoE

The US election outcome has “reinforced existing vulnerabilities” in the financial system, the Bank of England has warned, adding that the outlook for financial stability in the UK remains challenging. The BoE said on Wednesday that vulnerabilities that were already considered “elevated” have worsened since its last report on financial stability in July, in the […]

Continue Reading


China stock market unfazed by falling renminbi

China’s renminbi slump has companies and individuals alike scrambling to move capital overseas, but it has not damped the enthusiasm of China’s equity investors. The Shanghai Composite, which tracks stocks on the mainland’s biggest exchange, has been gradually rising since May. That is the opposite of what happened in August 2015 after China’s surprise renminbi […]

Continue Reading

Categorized | Property

UK housebuilder Countryside reports profits up a third

Posted on November 29, 2016

Housebuilder Countryside Properties brushed aside fears about the health of the UK’s property market as it reported a 34 per cent jump in operating profits to £123m.

Concerns about a housing slowdown have been growing — last week Countrywide, a British estate agent, said transactions were running “significantly below” last year.

But on Tuesday Countryside, which develops housing in the south east, Midlands and the north west, said “demand for all tenures of housing, particularly in London and the south east, continues to be strong and resilient”. It added that reservations were “robust”.

Analysts said there was a growing difference between the new build and second-hand markets, which means UK housebuilders have still largely reported robust demand.

“The new-build market is in rude health, but second hand has been slow,” said Gavin Jago, analyst at Peel Hunt. “Housebuilders are willing sellers but the second-hand market is different — if you get a slowdown in activity, it can be a vicious circle.”

He added that the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which provides support for people wanting to purchase new-build homes worth up to £600,000, was helping this sector.

In the past month, UK groups Persimmon and Bellway have reported resilient trading, with sales rates ahead of last year. Taylor Wimpey, the UK’s third-largest homebuilder, said its total order book was ahead of a year ago.

Countryside chief executive Ian Sutcliffe also put the company’s resilience down to its partnership division, which accounts for just under half of the group’s revenues. In this business, Countryside works with local authorities and housing associations to redevelop public sector land into mixed schemes that include privately owned homes, affordable housing and rented properties.

“Government sentiment seems to be moving away from ownership and towards broader housing delivery and mixed tenure,” he said.

Profits at Countryside’s partnership division in the year to September rose 40 per cent. At the private housebuilding unit, which focuses on the south east and the London suburbs, profits were up by 30 per cent.

Reported pre-tax profits rose from £28m to £79m, while earnings per share were up from 4.4p to 13.6p. The company proposed a maiden dividend of 3.4p per share.

Mr Jago said it was “a very strong set of results”, and added that the company was on track to double its pre-tax profits over the next two years.

“All housebuilders had a bit of a blip around the time of the referendum but they have had a strong rebound,” he said.

Countryside’s shares were flat at 230p on Tuesday. They floated in February at 225p, and have since outperformed those of rival housebuilders such as Barratt, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Bellway.