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Edinburgh Hibernian loses #1!/;1/m in first year

EDINBURGH Hibernian plc, the public company set up more than a year ago when supporters of the Premier League side bought up the two million 55p shares on offer, has lost more than #500,000 in its first year of trading, it was revealed yesterday.

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In March the company raised #3m with a rights issue to finance the purchase of Avon Inns, a #5m hotel restaurant and pubs group in the South-west of England with its head office in Bath. Only 220 of the original shareholders, mainly Hibs fans, took up the offer.

According to the company's results published yesterday, shareholders, who have seen the value of their original investment fall to 33p per share, will receive no dividend. After the flotation in October, 1988, the shares rose to 71p but fell again by 11p as a result of the rights issue.

The company's turnover was #1,782,000, which after interest payments of #288,000, produced an operating loss of #501,000.

Mr David Duff is chairman of both Edinburgh Hibernian plc and the football club, but is mainly responsible for running Avon Inns from the office in Bath.

Last night the board of directors claimed in a statement there had been a substantial improvement in the performance of the company's leisure interests since the end of their financial year. Several peripheral leisure units had been sold.

It added: ''The directors are confident in the future development of the group. If the company were to include the directors' assessment of player value on the balance sheet, the net asset value would substantially increase from 37.6p a share to 60p a share.''

Mr Duff has admitted Edinburgh Hibernian plc was keen to redevelop a 20-acre site adjoining the football club at Easter Road, with a view to preparing plans for a multi-million pound development on the site close to the city centre.

There have been exploratory but abortive talks with Edinburgh District Council about the posssibility of Hibs renting Meadowbank Stadium to play their home fixtures.

In April this year Mr David Rowland, a property magnate and entrepreneur with offshore interests in Panama and Monaco, became deputy chairman of Edinburgh Hibernian plc. It was he who financed the takeover in 1987 of the football club by Mr Duff and his brother-in-law Mr Jim Gray, the current managing director.

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