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Firm aims to extend housing plans to Scotland

Sigma Capital, which has seen its shares more than double since unveiling major housing regeneration plans for England two months ago, is hoping to extend the model into Scotland.

The Edinburgh-based investment specialist has attracted high-powered political backing for its £700 million programme with three English councils to build 2000 private homes for rent.

Sigma controls the land, negotiates planning, and works in partnership with major players in housebuilding and property. Its key achievement has been to attract private capital to an unloved sector, initially from Gatehouse, a Shariah-compliant investment bank.

Graham Barnet, who co-founded Sigma as a tech investor in 1996, said: "Hopefully we will be able to develop a model in Scotland as well. There are only so many things you can do at a time, but there is exactly the same demand in Scotland."

He added: "Our target is ultimately to get towards 25,000 homes in a UK-wide portfolio. We expect to have sites in the largest cities in England lined up in the next 24 months."

Mr Barnet said Sigma's chairman David Sigsworth, the former SSE director, was now taking soundings in Scotland.

He went on: "We are highly engaged with pension funds, we will definitely see them get involved in a significant way.

"We have got Gatehouse Bank, and there is a significant amount of capital from China and the Middle East looking at the UK and at large tranches of assets in the UK.

"We are looking at creating large-scale institutional-grade portfolios in the UK and pension funds will play a big part in it. It is a 50-year asset with growing demand and a pretty predictable income stream."

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