• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Murray shifts focus to private interests

SIR David Murray's business empire has shifted further towards his private interests with the sale of Murray Estates to the family-owned Murray Capital as part of a £13.9 million deal.

SIR DAVID MURRAY: His businesses have suffered heavy losses in recent years with shareholder deficit rising to £10.8m

The acquired assets include New Brannock, the company created by Sir David 20 years ago to build luxury housing in Lanarkshire alongside a £5m golf course, which saw its planning consent expire recently.

New Brannock's accounts, just lodged at Companies House, show the company wrote down its assets last year from £5.5m to £1m pending renewal of the planning consent.

The £4.5m writedown also preceeded the deal on February 28 which saw New Brannock's parent Murray Estates sold to Project Snowdon Acquisition, part of Murray Capital, in an "arm's length transaction".

The New Brannock directors, led by Sir David, write that in making the impairment charge in the year to 30 June 2013 they "took into consideration the stage reached in the planning process and the likely outcome".

In February, however, New Brannock was reported as being "very close to starting work" on the site at Newhouse, with a housing developer in place, and planning discussions progressing.

The accounts show that New Brannock cross-guaranteed the bank borrowings of MIH group companies to the tune of £296m, a rise of almost £10m on 2012. The total borrowings of MIH as reported a year ago were £369m.

Murray Estates owns or controls 600 acres to the west of Edinburgh, none with planning consents, while its 130 acres in Fife and 80 in Lanarkshire do have some consents, according to the last MIH accounts.

Those accounts show MIH sold its speciality plate and steels business in 2012 for £14m to a vehicle 60% backed by Sir David's family interests in another arm's length transaction. MIH recorded a £12m loss on the sale.

Sir David last year described MIH as the "legacy business" and predicted that in 2013 his private interests led by Murray Capital would become the bigger business.

New Brannock has just submitted a fresh application to North ­Lanarkshire Council asking for a three-year extension to planning permission for its 180-home development.

Meanwhile the Torrance Park golf club, built in 2001 but not opened by Sir David until planning for the rest of the site finally progressed in 2009, continues to operate at a substantial loss.

The New Brannock accounts show revenues from the club rising by 30% to £113,264, but matched by a similar £27,362 rise in running costs to produce a loss of £265,140 in the year, up from £263,601.

The asset writedown pushed the company into a £4.7m pre-tax loss, and the balance sheet shows the shareholder deficit rising from £6m to £10.8m.

Plans for 40 acres of housing on the site were first promoted in 1994 by Sir David and mining entrepreneur Graham Gillespie, who sold out to Sir David for £950,000 in 2007.

In 1998 revised plans for a country club, hotel and sports complex were rejected after objections from Scottish Natural Heritage and others, but in 2001 Sir David built the Torrance Park professional golf course on the site in what he said was a gesture of commitment.

Outline consent for 180 homes on 30 acres was finally granted by the then Scottish Executive in May 2005, with a stipulation that open space be preserved next to the Holytown to Carfin road.

Contextual targeting label: 
Business

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

224362