Housing boss Tony Pidgley found himself in what one analyst described as a ‘Mexican stand-off’ with ministers yesterday after he insisted his company was in no position to ramp up construction.
The 70-year-old industry veteran, who set up Berkeley Group in 1976 and still has a £185million stake in the firm, listed a string of reasons why he would not be helping Theresa May in her bid to solve the housing crisis.
Chief among his complaints were the Government’s own policies – including high levels of stamp duty and a clamp down on buy-to-let landlords as well as the planning system.
Housing boss Tony Pidgley set up the Berkeley Group in 1976 and still has a £185million stake in the firm
Pidgley, who was adopted from Barnardo’s by travellers when he was four and left home and school at 15, also blamed economic uncertainty and limits on mortgage lending.
‘The fundamentals of the market in London and the South East remain compelling, but the operating environment and its impact on transaction volumes do not support the step-up in Berkeley’s production levels that these markets so badly need,’ the company said.
That is not what the Prime Minister – or investors – would have wanted to hear.
Pledging to ‘restore the dream of home ownership’ in Britain earlier this month, May urged builders to ‘step up and do their bit’.
The company said it was still on course to hit all its targets, including at least £3.3billion of profits in the five years to April 2021. But shares fell 5.3 per cent, or 210p, to 3713p – costing Pidgley £10.5million alone.
Domino’s Pizza outlined plans to buy back £32million of shares before the end of the year, having already bought £18million. Shares fell 1 per cent, or 3.6p, to 320.8p
George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘Berkeley’s results highlight the development of something of a Mexican stand-off between housebuilders and the Government.
‘Theresa May is saying builders need to open up their land banks and develop more sites, while Berkeley is unwilling to aggressively ramp up production. Its comments are a clear signal to the Government that it believes the best way to move forward is not to churn through the land on its books, but to remove the red tape around the development process.’
STOCK WATCH: Mitie
Mitie’s turnaround plan remains on track and it will deliver higher cost savings than previously thought.
The outsourcer, which has been under pressure following a string of profit warnings, said that its transformation plan will see it trim costs by £50m a year by 2020.
Revenue is expected to grow up to 2.5 per cent to £2.2billion this year, as it pointed to a ten-year contract with the Home Office worth more than half a billion pounds. But its shares fell, closing down 3 per cent, or 4.9p, at 156.3p.
The stock market in London was lit up by the prospect of a bidding war for electronic trading group Nex (up 30 per cent, or 203.5p, to 874p).
The FTSE 100 index was up 0.3 per cent, or 24.38 points, at 7164.14 but the FTSE 250 fell 0.1 per cent, or 23.51 points, to 19,804.90.
Mothercare shares fell another 7 per cent, or 1.28p, to an all-time low of 17.12p – valuing the struggling High Street chain at just £29million.
Former Ukip donor Arron Banks was £744,000 richer last night after shares in AIM-listed Manx Financial Group jumped 17.3 per cent, or 1.95p, to 13.25p. Banks, 51, who gave Ukip £1m ahead of the 2015 General Election and is one of the self-styled Bad Boys of Brexit, has a 29.1 per cent stake in Manx worth £5million.
The company owns Conister Bank, the largest retail bank on the Isle of Man, and reported a 78 per cent rise in profits to £2.5million for 2017.
Executive chairman Jim Mellon, who has a 13.5 per cent stake in Manx worth £2.3million, described it as ‘a very satisfactory outcome’.
The 61-year-old, a prominent Brexit supporter, is worth £920million according to the Sunday Times Rich List, having made his fortune in fund management and property.
Domino’s Pizza outlined plans to buy back £32million of shares before the end of the year, having already bought £18million. Shares fell 1 per cent, or 3.6p, to 320.8p.
The boss of animal genetics specialist Genus, which breeds and sells pigs and offers top-quality bull sperm to livestock producers, sold shares in his own company worth £834,000. Karim Bitar sold 35,803 shares for 2330p each, leaving him with a holding of 68,213 shares worth £1.6million at last night’s close of 2324p, which was down 0.3 per cent, or 6p, on the day.