Robert Lo stepped down as chairman of Sovereign Reversions, the finance company specialising in equity release assets, during the companys annual general meeting today.
Lo will remain as a non-executive director and will continue to chair the Audit and Remuneration Committees. He has been succeeded by Paul Spencer as non-executive chairman of the company.
Lo says: “Sovereign Reversions has had an encouraging start to 2005/6. We have experienced an increase in the volume of home reversions offered by our 40.9% associate, Home & Capital Trust. After a quiet period for property sales, we have recently seen an increase in activity in the sale of vacant properties.
“In July 2005 Home & Capital Trust completed a rights issue, which was fully taken up by all shareholders, to raise around 500,000 of new equity to strengthen its capital base and prepare for regulation. Sovereign Reversions took up its entitlement at a cost of around 200,000.
“The actuarial profession is forecasting that the 1.2bn equity release market will double over the next five years. We are expecting the sale of home reversions to be regulated by the first quarter of 2007. With the progress of regulation and the need to consider alternatives to lifetime mortgages in the sales process, we are expecting the home reversions market to grow more rapidly than the equity release market as a whole.
“My successor as chairman, Paul Spencer, who joined the board in October 2004, has extensive knowledge of the financial services industry. He has wide public company board experience as well as being chairman of the Association of Corporate Treasurers advisory board. As Sovereign Reversions continues to develop, and with the advent of regulation in the home reversions market, Pauls particular leadership and other skills will prove to be a great asset to the company.”
Graeme Marshall, chief executive of Sovereign Reversions, says: “During the period Robert served as chairman of Sovereign Reversions, the company has been transformed. A director of Sovereign since its inception in 1992, he became chairman in 1999, when I became involved in the management. At that stage, we were a BES company with a portfolio of around 60 properties worth approximately 2m. Today, we are an AIM-listed company with a market capitalisation of some 43m and a portfolio of more than 600 properties.
“During Roberts period of chairmanship, we have made a number of acquisitions through public and private offers. We have facilitated a market in our shares by moving onto OFEX in 1999 and then, in April 2004, onto AIM, and our investment activities have taken us into new areas of the equity release market.
“The role Robert has played in Sovereign Reversions’ success in addressing the plethora of issues facing a small and ambitious company has been crucial.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Robert for the invaluable advice he has given over the past six years. We are delighted that he has agreed to stay on as a non-executive director and look forward to his continuing contribution.”