In February 2012 they bought Peverel, which had been part of the Tchenguiz empire from 2007 until it went into administration in March 2011. The deal involved a £62 million transaction supported with further working capital via a NatWest Bank loan.
In recent months, Peverel has appointed a £90,000 a year press guru, although a lot of the company’s efforts concern staying out of the public eye.
Recent LVT cases have been kicked into the long grass by arriving at settlements, where the parties sign confidentiality agreements. A recent example concerned Kingsborough commissions at a retirement site near Kingston, in Surrey.
Janet Entwistle, the CEO, has made it clear that LVT cases must be headed off, and she is a strong supporter of confidential Ombudsman schemes.
Then there is the fact that key figures of the past have been shown the door, such as Lee Middleburgh, the former head of residential, and Keith Edgar, the ex-head of Peverel Retirement. Former head of legal David Edwards has joined the Anchor Trust.
Most intriguing is Peverel’s relationship with the only customer who really counts: the Tchenguiz Family Trust. It owns the bulk of the freeholds that Peverel manages (including those of 53,000 retirement flats).
These freeholds have been up for sale for a year or so, and is an open question what Peverel’s relationship would be with a new owner.
It is odd that at a number of important sites – Palgrave Gardens, near Regent’s Park, and the massive 422-unti Metro Central Heights Metro Central Heights at the Elephant and Castle – Peverel has not resisted right to manage. Instead, it has co-operated with the process in exchange for a one-year management contract.
The Right To Manage Federation, which handled the RTM at Metro Central Heights, has contacted LKP to point out that it was actually the RTM Company that chose to continue with Peverel on an interim basis. It did not think the acquisition date gave sufficient time to select a new agent.
Of course, ownership of Peverel has been a game of pass-the-parcel from the early days. It was originally a Bournemouth estate agent that got lucky tying up with John McCarthy, the founder of retirement leasehold pioneer McCarthy and Stone.
At some point in the eighties it was absorbed into the housebuilder only to be sold again in 1993 after the first retirement leasehold mutiny. This is when John McCarthy sued the Daily Telegraph for £800,000, but abandoned the case after blowing £200,000 on lawyers.
Peverel was then sold off to Electra in 1993 for £30 million.
John McCathy recalls in his autobiography Building a Billion:
“Interesting, in the formative days of us moving into the provision of sheltered housing in the private sector, a number of institutions including Housing Associations were not interested in taking on the management. They seem to have missed out.”
A management buyout followed and in 2007 Peverel ended up in the hands of Tchenguiz.
It has now lost the management of the pick of its prime London sites, and none of the prestige housebuilders will touch it. Nor will McCarthy and Stone, curiously, which is now attempting to manage its properties – the very few it has built since 2008 – itself.