Trio join the cash call craze

A TRIO of property companies are setting their sights on fundraising this week to exploit opportunities created in the downturn.<br /><br />Great Portland Estates, Big Yellow Group and Shaftesbury have all been working with advisers on how to tap investors for extra cash.<br /><br />West End property specialist Great Portland Estates, is expected to announce a fundraising of around &pound;125m through a rights issue today, along with its full year results. The owner of fashion retailer New Look&rsquo;s headquarters will most likely use advisers JP Morgan Cazenove and Credit Suisse to fully underwrite the cash call.<br /><br />Chief executive Toby Courtauld is keen to build a war chest for acquisitions as opportunities begin to emerge in the battered London market. Unlike its&nbsp;peers, Great Portland is not forced to launch the cash call from a distressed position, with debts of only &pound;375m, none of which are repayable until 2012.<br /><br />Storage company Big Yellow is also expected to go cap in hand to investors tomorrow for &pound;25m to fund the construction of new sites in London and Guildford. JP Morgan Cazenove is&nbsp;underwriting the placing.<br /><br />Yesterday, City speculation suggested that the flamboyant co-founder of the group David Ross was readying himself to spend &pound;250,000 on buying new shares in the group. Ross resigned from the group last year after it emerged that he had used company shares as collateral against loans. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing.<br /><br />Nicholas Vetch, Big Yellow Group&rsquo;s chairman, is also said to be planning to spend some of his own money buying new shares in the company.<br /><br />And analysts predict that West End property developer Shaftesbury could also announce its intentions to raise funds when it reports interim results later this month.<br /><br />The succession of opportunistic property groups tapping the market follows City property mogul Nick Leslau launching a new property company last week and veteran Leo Noe approaching investors to buy into a &pound;300m new fund.