Arsenal's profits rise as property is snapped up

David Hellier
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PROPERTY entrepreneurs Raymond Mould and Patrick Vaughan yesterday swooped on Highbury Square, the residential property project being developed by Arsenal football club.<br /><br />The duo, who head up Aim-listed property group London &amp; Stamford, have purchased 146 apartments plus 98 garage spaces for &pound;41.4m.<br /><br />The deal comes to the aid of Arsenal, which has been struggling to sell the 655 apartments that have been developed on the site of the club&rsquo;s former Highbury stadium.<br /><br />Following the deal, Arsenal has completed on 445 out of 655 units, but at prices considerably lower than envisaged when the project began.<br /><br />There had been suggestions that a Far Eastern buyer was going to buy a similar number of apartments but that now seems unlikely.<br /><br />News of the apartments&rsquo; sale came as Arsenal Holdings, the club&rsquo;s parent company, unveiled that pre-tax profits had risen to &pound;45.5m from &pound;36.7m the year before.<br /><br />Group turnover, including from the club&rsquo;s property arm, rose from &pound;223m&nbsp; to &pound;313.3m. <br /><br />Revenues from the football part of the business rose more modestly from &pound;207.7m to &pound;225.1m.<br /><br />Group debt has come down from &pound;318.1m to &pound;297.7m, but that is still too high for Alisher Usmanov, the club&rsquo;s 25 per cent plus shareholder who wanted Arsenal to hold a rights issue.<br /><br />Mould and Vaughan have worked together for the past 40 years, first with Arlington and then with Pillar Properties.<br /><br />The Arsenal development is London &amp; Stamford&rsquo;s sixth deal this year. Other deals involve snapping up half a stake in British Land&rsquo;s Meadowhall shopping centre for &pound;588m and acquiring City offices One Fleet Place for &pound;74m. The two property veterans had previously ruled out the residential sector, but were won over by the Highbury flats, which range from 750ft one-bedroomed apartments to five penthouses.