Watchstone plans capital return of at least £50m


Business technology group Watchstone said it intended to return at least £50m to shareholders following the sale of its Canadian assets and a court decision.

This month, the company completed a sale of its healthcare services division in Canada for an initial C$36.2m (£20.8m), with up to a further C$0.8m (£0.5m) conditional on the business generating target revenues in the first year.

Commercial disputes resolved in the year included a High Court claim issued by Slater and Gordon, which provided for £11m of the £50m held in escrow to be released to the latter, with the balance of £39m, and accrued interest, being released to Watchstone.

Cash and term deposits at 31 December, excluding cash within businesses classified as held for sale, totalled £71.6m.

Total cash following completion of the sale of the healthcare services division, was about £90m, representing around 195p per share.

'Watchstone will now proceed with plans for a further court approved, capital repayment to shareholders and further details will be announced in due course,' the company said.

'The current plan is to return at least £50m, representing at least 110p per share, before the end of June 2020.'

'The timetable is anticipated to be slightly longer than usual given the need to complete the audit in advance of the return.'

'As further matters are resolved, the company will seek to return additional cash to shareholders.'

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