Property firm St Modwen is working on the assumption that "much - if not all" of MG Rover's Longbridge site will be handed back to it by administrators Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
St Modwen yesterday said it was waiting for news on the future of the mothballed car plant after it posted a three per cent rise in first half profits.
The firm, which bought most of the Longbridge factory more than a year ago, said it was co-operating with administrators for the collapsed firm but said that the final outcome remained ?uncertain?.
Birmingham-based St Modwen paid #42.5 million for all but 20 acres of the site in January 2004. It was leased to MG Rover for 35 years and in theory could still be used for car-making if administrators find a buyer.
However, the administrators have already agreed to surrender 60 acres of the 330 acres to St Modwen.
Chairman Anthony Glossop told shareholders that the administrators were remaining in occupation at Long-bridge and paying full rent.
?Our aim is to provide a flexible approach which will ensure that we obtain full rent for space retained by the administrator whilst allowing him to surrender space that is not required but is capable of independent access and use.
?In the meantime, on the assumption that much, if not all, of the site will be handed back to us in due course, we are talking to all the relevant regional and local authorities with a view to expediting its re- use as a major employment-led mixed-use site.?
St Modwen received planning permission earlier this year to build a technology park on 57 acres of land adjacent to the Longbridge factory, owned by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands. It expects to obtain detailed planning consent for the site in the near future, with construction work possibly starting in four to six months. Chief executive Bill Oliver said that so far none of the bidders for the MG Rover assets had contacted St Modwen to discuss the practicality of resuming car production at the site.
The update on Longbridge came as St Modwen revealed pretax profits rose three per cent to #22.8 million for the six months to May 31.
It also reported a strong start to the second half of its financial year, with profits of more than #15 million already secured.
This has left it on course to meet its long-term aim of doubling the net value of the company every five years and posting record full-year results for the thirteenth consecutive year.
Earnings per share for the six month rose one per cent, from 12.9p to 13p, while the interim dividend increases by 16 per cent, from 2.5p to 2.9p.
Mr Glossop added: ?Our development activities are running at record levels, we have successfully acquired several significant sites for future development and are selling completed developments and mature investments well.? Turning to the company?s future prospects, he said: ?The investment market is strong and appears likely to remain so.
?The occupational market is patchy, particularly in the office sector, but there is business to be won on the right site if the product is competitive.
?The market for residential land continues to be buoyant and the mixed-use apartment sector that we address, which is affordable and owneroccupier led, is also holding up.?