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Shares drop for Battersea Power Station owner

by Eleanor Harding
from Wandsworth Guardian (online)
15 July 2010

New fears have been raised over the future of Battersea Power Station after its owner saw its shares tumble by 51 per cent in seven days.

Real Estate Opportunities (REO), an Irish developer, hopes to attract investors in the autumn once its proposals have passed through the planning committee.

But on Tuesday shares stood at 2.8p - down from 5.8p the Tuesday before - prompting questions over the company’s ability to excite interest in the scheme.

Brian Barnes, chair of Battersea Power Station Community Group, said: “It’s a joke price. That basically means they’re almost worthless.

“What they’re looking for is someone to take 50 per cent of the business. They’re going to find it hard when their shares are priced that low.

“We fear they may just give up and knock it [the power station] down. That would be a real shame, and we would oppose that tooth and nail.”

REO’s plan is the third serious application to redevelop the 81-year-old power station - the previous two, in 1986 and 1996, failed.

Wandsworth Council began formal public consultation on the new plans on November 24 last year, with a final decision expected in September.

Under the £4 billion proposals, the site, which closed in 1983, would be converted into a complex of leisure, office, residential and amenities spaces.

REO, which is majority-owned by property developers Treasury Holdings, has seen its shares plummet over the past 12 months from a year high of 25.5p in August 2009.

But Councillor Ravi Govindia, cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, said the fears for the power station were unfounded.

He said: “There has been a lot of speculation going on with the share prices. But what’s more important is the ability of the scheme to inspire confidence in both the planning committee and in investors.

“It’s the strength of the site that will drive investor’s confidence rather than REO’s portfolio across the world. It’s a very grounded and realistic scheme.”

Last month REO announced plans to separate the power station into a listed company in order to attract investors for the redevelopmet.

The company declined to comment.

Date posted: 16 July 2010