Property firm Miller Group returns to profit
Building giant Miller Group has reported a profit for the first half of the year, following a loss in the same period last year.
The Scottish firm made a pre-tax profit of £400,000, compared with a loss of £52.9m in 2011.
During the period, Miller Group, which is based in Edinburgh, completed a £160m re-finance package.
The group, which now has net assets of £228m, said it had accelerated investment in new land.
Miller has four divisions - housing, construction, property and mining.
All except construction increased profits during the period. Its core housing division reported an operating profit of £4.4m compared with a £35.2m loss in 2011.Affordable housing
Miller recorded 820 housing completions in the first six months, with the average selling price increasing from £154,000 to £170,000.
Chief executive Keith M Miller CBE told BBC Scotland: "We're very positive about the long-term future of housing.
"There's a massive under-supply of housing, particularly for first time buyers and in the affordable sector - so we're seeing a long-term strength of demand and a realignment of prices.
"Houses have never been such good value as they are at the moment and we're finding land easier to secure."
He warned that although the company expected to increase its margins and profits, a "real improvement" in the housing market would only start if there was a change in "lenders' strategies regarding the availability and pricing of mortgages".Company culture
The group announced it had secured investment of £160m from one of America's largest private equity firms at the end of 2011 and the deal was completed earlier this year.
The cash injection gave GSO Capital Partners, which is part of the Blackstone investment house, a stake of about 50% in the Scottish firm.
Mr Miller said that without that investment the company's "growth trajectory" would have been much slower.
However, he said the Miller family remained significant shareholders of the firm and the culture and values of the business had not changed.