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Williams de Broe housing trust axed as it falls short

Investment specialist Williams de Broe scrapped its First Housing

investment trust offer last week after marginally failing to raise

sufficient money for its capital shares.

The split-cap fund was already oversubscribed for its £22m offering

of income shares but its capital share subscription of £10.6m fell

around £2m short. After costs and charges had been taken into account,

the trust fell short of the London Stock Exchange minimum requirements for

investment trusts of £30m net assets at launch. It had also secured

around £29m of gearing.

Williams de Broe says it is looking at restructuring the fund for a purely

institutional market but says it is unlikely to set up another retail

version.

Housing investment trusts were designed by the Conservative Govern-ment

five years ago to encourage investment in the residential property market.

However, the vehicle never took off due to its stringent investment rules,

which prevented managers from investing in properties worth more than

£125,000 in London and £85,000 elsewhere.

Williams de Broe corporate finance director Graham Lewinstein says: “It

could have been market conditions or it could have been all sorts of

factors. We were very close. We will be reviewing all our options next

week.”

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