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Company spotlight: Raven Mount

Raven Mount inherited Swan Hill’s pension fund, which was in deficit, and this scuppered a quick resale of the business.

Swan Hill has finally gone. Not the pension fund that Raven Mount still has to look after, but all the housing stock that Anton Bilton’s group inherited when it bought Swan Hill for £47 million in November 2003.

Apart from getting rid of some of this troublesome stock, Raven Mount has been moving into other sectors.

Property management in the US and Russia has generated fees and Swan Hill’s land bank was used to reposition the development activities in the retirement sector.

This move into warden controlled retirement homes is under the Audley Court brand and four schemes totalling 408 units are under way.

Completion of the first phases on each is expected next year and some profits should start to roll in.
After struggling to a £557,000 pre-tax profit in the first half of last year, Raven Mount booked a thumping £3.9 million loss for the six months to June 2007 as turn-over crumbled from £42.7 million to £32.3 million.

The debts have been trimmed to £15.9 million and enduring problems of the Swan Hill takeover solved.

Raven Mount inherited Swan Hill’s pension fund, which was in deficit, and this scuppered a quick resale of the business. Instead, the land bank had to be built out and that has proved painful, but last year’s £4.9 million pension deficit is now a £500,000 surplus.

Despite losses, Raven Mount upped the interim dividend by a third but at 0.8p per share that will not entice institutional investors. Avoid.