In recent years, the banking sector may have taken the spotlight for wealth destruction in the credit crunch, but the property sector wasn’t far behind.  As the real estate markets continue to serve up nervous headlines, we thought now was a good time to find out more about the teams that are waiting in the wings ready to move quickly whenever the big opportunities become available.

Conygar Investment Company PLC (LON:CIC)  is an AIM listed property vehicle set up in 2003 by some of the management team that had built MEPC up to be one of the UK’s top 5 listed property companies before eventually being taken private for £3.8bn in 2000.

Having previously had success at MEPC in handling the largest PFI in Wales, they leveraged those connections to build up an impressive land bank of waterfront development projects at Pembroke Dock, Holyhead in Anglesey and Fishguard.  But when the credit crunch hit , the team and their partners in Wales put the development of these areas on hold to wait for the market to turn up again.  In the meantime, as Robert Ware, Chief Executive, and Preston Rabl, Director, explained to us in this interview greater short term opportunities are presenting themselves to profit from distressed assets and market mispricings.  

In 2009 alone the group made acquisitions of a mixture of property assets worth £196m including the Lamont Portfolio and The Advantage Property Income Trust (TAP).  The TAP acquisition was an example of Conygar’s opportunistic nature, ‘making the money on the buy’ and taking advantage of market over-reaction.  In an unusual scenario for property acquisitions, the group went hostile with a bid directly to the shareholders in November 2009 and picked up TAP’s net assets of £49.9m for £28.1m.  Since that date, they have made several profitable disposals from the TAP portfolio and have continued to make further acquisitions of commercial, office and industrial property portfolios.  The company’s shares currently trade at a price of 103p versus a net asset value per share of 144p as of the March interim results.

As Robert and Preston explain to us in this podcast they plan on continuing their patient approach of waiting with powder dry for the right opportunity and aggressively pursuing it when it arises. They see many opportunities presenting themselves through 2011, especially in distressed asset portfolios from the banks.  They believe…

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