«Press Release 11 March 2016 Watkin Jones Limited Announcement of Intention to Float on AIM Watkin Jones Limited (Watkin Jones or the Company), a ...»
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Press Release 11 March 2016 Watkin Jones Limited Announcement of Intention to Float on AIM Watkin Jones Limited ("Watkin Jones" or the "Company"), a leading UK developer and constructor of multi occupancy property assets, with a focus on the student accommodation sector, is pleased to announce its intention to apply for admission of its issued and to be issued ordinary shares of £0.01 each in the capital of the Company ("Ordinary Shares") to trading on AIM, a market operated by London Stock Exchange plc ("Admission").
Dealings are expected to commence on 23 March 2016 with an expected market capitalisation on Admission of approximately £255 million. Zeus Capital is acting as Nominated Adviser, Joint Bookrunner and Joint Broker to the Company with Peel Hunt acting as Joint Bookrunner and Joint Broker.
Key Highlights The Company, together with its subsidiaries (the "Group") is a UK wide developer specialising in purpose built student accommodation (“PBSA”).
The Group’s competitive advantage lies in its business model, which comprises an end to end solution for investors across the entire life cycle of an asset including site procurement, planning application, transaction funding, construction and delivery, and asset management.
Since 1999, the Group has delivered over 28,000 student beds across 88 sites and has over 11,300 beds to deliver in its current pipeline.
Management believe that positive market dynamics will help support the growth of the business, particularly increasing demand for PBSA and PRS.
The Group delivered revenue from continuing operations in the year ended 30 September 2015 of £244.2
million (2014: £227.3 million) and operating profit from continuing operations of £32.5 million (2014:
The Group has 31 developments in its pipeline, which it is on track to deliver, and the Directors are confident in the future prospects of the Group.
Grenville Turner, former CEO and current Non-Executive Chairman of FTSE 250 company Countrywide plc, has joined the Company as Non-Executive Chairman, bringing a wealth of sector and public markets experience.
Simon Laffin, the current Non-Executive Chairman of FlyBe Group plc and Executive Chairman of Assura plc, has joined the Company as an Independent Non-Executive Director.
The Directors’ intention is to implement a progressive dividend policy, subject to the discretion of the Board and to the Company having sufficient distributable reserves. The Group would ordinarily look to pay both interim and final dividends for each financial year, split as to approximately 1/3 for the interim payment and 2/3 for the final payment. Based on a pro forma full year yield of 6%, calculated by reference to the Placing Price, and recognising that Admission will take place part way through the financial period, the Directors intend that a total dividend for the year to 30 September 2016 of 4 pence per Ordinary Share will be paid Strategy To continue to leverage the Group’s position as one of the leading developers of student accommodation in the UK, primarily using a forward sale model to minimise risk, and taking advantage of attractive market dynamics to increase both revenues and profitability on a sustainable basis.
To expand the Group’s business further into the private rented sector (“PRS”) to capitalise on the similarities of this business with its core student accommodation expertise, engaging its existing relationships with institutional investors to forward fund these PRS projects and minimise development risk.
To continue expansion of the Group’s management division in student accommodation, particularly focusing on developments already in existence, together with a focus on rolling out the PRS management offering for its existing and new clients using a similar model to that already adopted for student accommodation.
Reasons for Admission To provide a platform for the Group to execute its growth plans.
To raise the profile and enhance the reputation of the Group.
To incentivise the management team and wider employee base.
To allow incumbent shareholders to realise a proportion of value held whilst retaining significant shareholdings to benefit from future upside.
Mark Watkin Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Watkin Jones, said: "We are delighted to announce our plans to join the AIM market. The entire team has worked hard to establish our position as a leader in the UK student accommodation development market, and it is this ability and ambition that will allow us to capitalise on the significant opportunities ahead."
“The PBSA market in particular has huge potential and is supported by a number of long term growth drivers.
We look forward to continuing to grow our business as a publicly quoted company.”
Buchanan Henry Harrison-Topham / Richard Oldworth / Helen Chan Tel: +44 (0) 20 7466 5000 email@example.com www.buchanan.uk.com
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTSAll statements other than statements of historical fact included in this Announcement, including, without limitation, those regarding the Group’s financial position, business strategy, plans and objectives of management for future operations or statements relating to expectations in relation to shareholder returns, dividends or any statements preceded by, followed by or that include the words “targets”, “estimates”, “envisages”, “believes”, “expects”, “aims”, “intends”, “plans”, “will”, “may”, “anticipates”, “would”, “could” or similar expressions or the negative thereof, are forward looking statements.
Such forward looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors beyond the Group’s control that could cause the actual results and performance to be materially different from future results and performance expressed or implied by such forward looking statements. Such forward looking statements are based on numerous assumptions regarding the Group’s present and future business strategies and the environment in which the Group will operate in the future.
These forward looking statements speak only as of the date of this Announcement. The Company expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Company’s expectations with regard thereto, any new information or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statements are based, unless required to do so by law or any appropriate regulatory authority.
Notes to editors:
History and Background Watkin Jones was established in 1791 and is a ninth generation family business which has evolved from a joinery manufacturer and undertaker into a regional building contractor, and subsequently into a UK wide developer, specialising in large scale PBSA and residential developments. The Group’s CEO, Mark Watkin Jones joined the business in 1990 when it operated primarily in North West Wales in the general construction market and had annual revenues of approximately £17 million. In 1993, the business opened an office in Chester, which provided it with access to new geographical markets and gave rise to opportunities to undertake construction work for major UK brands such as Whitbread (including the Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre and Beefeater brands), Tesco, Homebase, Asda, Lidl and Aldi. This provided a platform for the Group’s further growth and experience in delivering large contracts for blue chip clients.
Watkin Jones has experienced significant growth since 1999, when it completed its first student accommodation project. The Group has strong relationships with institutional investors, and a good reputation for successful, on-time-delivery of high quality developments. Since 1999, Watkin Jones has delivered over 28,000 student beds across 88 sites, making it a key player and leader in the UK PBSA market. In addition, Watkin Jones has been responsible for over 50 residential developments, ranging from starter homes to executive housing and apartments.
Business Overview The Group’s competitive advantage lies in its business model, which enables it to offer an end to end solution for investors, managed entirely in-house with minimal reliance on third parties, across the entire life cycle of an asset including site procurement, planning application, transaction funding, construction and delivery, and asset management. Watkin Jones’s development projects have four principal phases, which are set out in more detail below. The Group has developed significant expertise in all of these areas and its operational management are highly experienced in delivering large scale developments on time and on budget.
(i) Site identification, procurement and planning Watkin Jones has extensive knowledge of the UK student accommodation market, built up through operating as a specialist in the market for over 15 years. Using this knowledge, a strategic plan is developed targeting locations with attractive characteristics for development.
Once locations are targeted, Watkin Jones’s team of developers work to identify specific sites that may be suitable for development and opportunities are reviewed by senior management prior to negotiations being entered into. The Newmark business division, a separate project management division of the Group, typically liaises with the relevant planning authority to secure planning permission on an identified site prior to acquisition. Watkin Jones’s intention is, ordinarily, to acquire the site subject to planning permission, paying a refundable deposit to secure the site. Occasionally sites are acquired pre-planning where vendor demands dictate. Acquisition of sites subject to planning permission reduces risk, although the Group’s record of obtaining planning permission has been extremely strong.
(ii) Transaction funding Watkin Jones has strong relationships with a number of blue chip institutional funding partners who commonly invest in property development including development schemes in the PBSA and PRS sectors. Feedback from institutional partners has been consistently positive and the Watkin Jones Group is a repeat partner for several key investors in the sector.
Watkin Jones primarily operates a forward sale model on the new developments, whereby the sale of a development to an investor is agreed prior to its construction. This model reduces development risk as future revenue is contractually guaranteed provided that Watkin Jones meets its obligations on design, build and construction. The forward sale structure also creates a more regular and consistent cash flow for Watkin Jones, as the purchaser is billed on a monthly basis, as opposed to a non-forward sold development where revenue is only received on sale of the asset post completion.
(iii) Construction and delivery Watkin Jones has significant experience of delivering large scale construction projects and employs a number of experienced construction directors and project managers who are responsible for project delivery. In addition, Watkin Jones’s long term relationships with key suppliers enables the Group to take advantage of national agreed rates with sub-contractors. Construction progress and cost are monitored against agreed timelines and budgets on a monthly basis, with the objective of ensuring successful delivery of all developments.
In the student accommodation market, completion timelines are key as developments must be completed before the start of an academic year. Watkin Jones has an excellent record of timely delivery. The Group currently has the capacity to deliver at least 10 student developments to the market each year and typically works on a two year construction delivery period, giving current capacity of at least 20 developments on site at any one time.
(iv) Asset management In addition to its development and construction business, Watkin Jones operates Fresh, one of the largest independent managers (i.e. that does not own the asset being managed) of PBSA in the UK by number of beds.
Fresh manages over 8,300 beds across 32 PBSA schemes at present and has contracts in place to increase that number to more than 12,500 beds and 45 developments from September 2016, 13 of which will be schemes developed by third parties.
Fresh provides the Group with a number of synergistic benefits by working alongside the Group’s development
business, in addition to servicing its external clients. These include:
using its expertise to provide input on city selection;