Industrial property company, Slough Estates, has had a turbulent 12 months. A major acquisition has been coupled with the ongoing saga of a High Court case against a local authority. At the centre of events has been finance director Richard Kingston, who announces half-year results next week. Last year he was able to announce pre-tax profits of £103.2m, up 14.8% on the previous year. Chairman Sir Nigel Mobbs said the company had a 'very successful year' and expected its success to continue. Despite some deterioration of business confidence, property markets have proved resilient. High occupancy levels, little new building activity, low interest rates and inflation will provide further confidence for Kingston and the board that Slough will continue to grow in coming months. For Slough Estates, the most significant development in the past 12 months was the purchase of Bilton, a rival company with a portfolio of office and industrial space. The deal signalled the arrival of accountancy firms' corporate finance divisions in the hostile takeover arena. Slough was advised by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers on the £276m deal - the largest in which the winning side had used an accountancy firm as its lead adviser. PricewaterhouseCoopers approached Slough to suggest the move following a number of other smaller hostile takeovers in which accountancy firms were involved. The other major ongoing issue was its £49m battle with Welwyn Hatfield district council in Hertfordshire. The dispute involved the council changing its policy on shopping centre development. The council was accused of deceiving both Slough Estates and another developer, Carroll Group, over two proposed shopping centres in Hertfordshire. Welwyn Hatfield came under investigation when Slough initiated an action against the council for deceit for changing its policy. A 1996 High Court judgment ordered the authority to pay Slough £49m. Prior to arriving at Slough in 1987 as group financial controller, Kingston worked for Hawker Siddeley, Whinney Murray & Co and British Petroleum. He became FD of Slough Estates in 1996.
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