Good results help Minerva

Steve Dinneen
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Minerva completed an astonishing turnaround yesterday as it reported healthy profits, pointing to a sea change in the UK commercial property market.

The real estate giant behind the iconic Walbrook building on Cannon Street reported after-tax profits of £45.6m for the second half of last year, compared to a loss of £186.7m in 2008. The value of its portfolio of City offices and upmarket residential properties rose 10.6 per cent to £980m. The results, released in an interim trading statement, will be welcome news for the company, which is still reeling from a failed hostile takeover bid from its biggest shareholder.

South African businessman Nathan Kirsh tried to wrest control of the firm for 50p a share in a move described by the board as “deliberately disruptive.” Kirsh, who owns 29.9 per cent of Minerva, tried to oust standing chairman Oliver Whitehead during the process.

Now the firm believes the London property market has turned a corner, with a shortage of large, high-quality sites in the City driving demand.

Whitehead said: “We have passed the cyclical low for commercial property transactions.”