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Arthur Cox halts work for Russian clients after Ukraine invasion

Law firm Arthur Cox has halted its work for dozens of Russian clients because of the Ukraine invasion, as pressure piles on business to cut ties with the Putin regime.

The firm’s roster of Russian clients included some groups targeted by international sanctions and some groups in which key executives have been hit by sanctions.

Among them was an Irish subsidiary of Rosneft, the state-controlled oil giant closely linked to the Kremlin, and a Dublin-registered financing company which had Rosneft as its only borrower. Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister of Russia, was hit by US sanctions against “Russian elites” after the invasion. EU sanctions this week prompted France to block his superyacht from an urgent departure from the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat, near Marseilles.

Arthur Cox, one of Ireland’s largest solicitors firms, also had a specific “Russian capital markets practice”, acting for more than 60 Russian borrowers. A page on the company’s website said a partner in the firm, Glenn Butt, has advised on more than 220 Russian deals in the last 14 years.

Clients, named on the same web page, included: lenders Alfa Bank, Credit Bank of Moscow, Sovcombank, and TCS; Russian state leasing firm GTLK; Russian Railways; potash producer Uralkali; miner Norilsk Nickel; steel and mining group Metalloinvest; chemicals company Phosagro; and steel group NLMK.

The EU resolved this week to exclude Sovcombank from the Swift payments network and Alfa Bank ranks among the institutions the EU has banned from bonds, shares or loans for refinancing their operations.

“We are appalled by the horrific scenes in Ukraine and condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which has prompted a review of all existing and any new Russia-related work,” Arthur Cox said in a statement on Friday.

“At this time, we have decided to both decline new instructions and cease all Russia-related work that goes against our values or existing or emerging sanctions. Though we are subject to strict client confidentiality rules and are not at liberty to comment on individual clients, we can confirm that this review has already resulted in our ceasing to act for a number of clients.”

Policy change

The statement, on the ninth day of the Russian invasion, reflects a policy change. On the first day of the attack the firm said it “has always and will continue to be guided by and comply fully with all applicable sanctions” when The Irish Times asked whether its work for two entities with Rosneft links might be reviewed because of the military campaign.

The oil group has long had a corporate vehicle in Ireland, Rosneft International, which facilitates investments and for which Arthur Cox was solicitor. The Dublin unit, with a registered office at Merrion Square, reported a $28.53 million (€26.13 million) pre-tax profit in 2018 and a $2.83 million profit in 2019.

Companies Office records show Arthur Cox was solicitor to a separate Irish company, Rosneft International Finance. That entity issued $3 billion in loan notes in 2012 to Rosneft, $2 billion of which falls due next Monday, according to accounts filed in December.

The Arthur Cox statement added: “We are actively engaging with our pro bono partners to find ways to support Ukrainian people who are arriving in Ireland, alongside our support for the International Red Cross.”

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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The house that Poundland bought: Moated manor complete with a swimming pool and a museum about the budget chain that was owned by late founder Keith Smith goes on the market for £7.75m

A stunning manor that was bought by the late founder of Poundland has gone on the market for £7.75million.

The nine-bed refurbished Jacobean mansion in Claverley, Shropshire has its own swimming pool and features a museum dedicated to the budget chain. 

Keith Smith launched the discount chain in 1990 with his son Steve and together they grew the enterprise to over 70 stores before selling it for £50million in 2002.

Mr Smith, who grew up in nearby Willenhall, bought Ludstone Hall in 1997 with his Poundland profits upon returning to the UK.  He died in 2022, aged 79, after a short battle with cancer and his wife Maureen passed away a few months later.

Now, his son Steve and his siblings are selling his late father’s beloved home for £7.75million. 

Ludstone Hall dates back to Medieval times but the current property was built in 1607 for the Whitmore family. The estate stayed in the family until 1867 and has only had a handful of owners since.

Steve Smith (pictured) at the moated manor home which his parents bought in 1997

Steve Smith (pictured) at the moated manor home which his parents bought in 1997 

The Poundland museum which is located inside Ludstone Hall

The Poundland museum which is located inside Ludstone Hall 

One of the dining rooms in Ludstone Hall which was owned by co-founder of Poundland Keith Smith

One of the dining rooms in Ludstone Hall which was owned by co-founder of Poundland Keith Smith 

The home is now on the market for £7.75million

The home is now on the market for £7.75million

The swimming pool located inside the manor home in Shropshire

The swimming pool located inside the manor home in Shropshire 

Poundland's co-founders Steve and Keith Smith pictured together

Poundland’s co-founders Steve and Keith Smith pictured together

The manor has period features such as mullioned windows, panelled reception hall, stone fireplaces and the remarkable survival of the original lead rainwater goods.

The main house has over 8,000 sq ft of accommodation including four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and extensive cellars. 

A leisure complex at the rear includes the swimming pool with retractable floor, a handmade oak bar, separate dining area and a hot tub under a raised platform.

There is a two-bedroom gate lodge on the grounds and a number of outbuildings, including a coach house that the Smiths converted to create a museum to the history of both the estate and Poundland.

The formal gardens include box hedging, lawns, squash court, the moat, raised terraces, a lake and an orchard.

Steve Smith (pictured) outside his parents' home in Claverley, Shropshire

Steve Smith (pictured) outside his parents’ home in Claverley, Shropshire 

The main house has over 8,000 sq ft of accommodation including four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and extensive cellars

The main house has over 8,000 sq ft of accommodation including four reception rooms, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms and extensive cellars

The kitchen area inside the property which has an island and a chandelier

The kitchen area inside the property which has an island and a chandelier 

One of the living rooms in the property which boasts period features

One of the living rooms in the property which boasts period features 

A luxurious main double-bedroom at the home which features a four-poster bed and fireplace

A luxurious main double-bedroom at the home which features a four-poster bed and fireplace

A Poundland store in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

A Poundland store in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

After leaving school, Keith Smith worked as an apprentice draughtsman before running a market stall and the Hooty’s cash & carry in Willenhall, Walsall. 

When his son Steve turned 18 and wanted to launch a business of his own, his father gave him the idea of starting up a shop where everything was £1.

With a £50,000 loan from Keith, the pair co-founded Poundland, with the first shop opening in Burton upon Trent, in Staffordshire.

Steve, 61, said: ‘When my parents came back to the UK they wanted to find a home where they would never want to move from, and they certainly found that at Ludstone.

‘My mum and dad really loved their time at the estate which can be seen in the amount of money they invested in the property – it really is the home that Poundland built.

The home was bought in 1997 by Keith Smith with his Poundland profits

The home was bought in 1997 by Keith Smith with his Poundland profits 

Mr Smith and his wife Maureen spent £7million on a major refurb of the nine bedroom Jacobean mansion

Mr Smith and his wife Maureen spent £7million on a major refurb of the nine bedroom Jacobean mansion

The swimming pool which is located underneath the floor

The swimming pool which is located underneath the floor

A bridge across the moat which surrounds the stunning property in Claverley

A bridge across the moat which surrounds the stunning property in Claverley 

‘One particular investment they made was installing the swimming pool. They wanted to have a big party for the millennium so had one with a retractable floor installed so that the room could also be used to host events.

‘Living locally myself, I have some really happy memories of their time here. I used to bring dad the broken sweets we couldn’t sell and he’d feed them to the cows that he kept in the grounds. The cows were sold to a supermarket chain who said that it was the sweetest meat they’d tasted.

‘We’d also hold charity events and open up the museum to visitors and raised thousands of pounds for local good causes over the years.

‘The property holds so much historic significance, and has only had a handful of owners since it was built. We’re now keen to see the property go to a new family who can make their own memories here.

‘While the Ludstone Hall Estate section of the museum will remain at the property, we’ll also be donating all of the Poundland memorabilia to Poundland so that they can preserve the history of the company.’

Ludstone Hall is being sold by estate agents Fisher German.

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Inside two stunning British sea forts heading to auction with a guide price of £1m

If you are fed up with troublesome neighbours, poky rooms and congested streets, a solution could be at hand. 

There are not one, but two, unique island sea forts going up for auction on Savills later this month on 18 June.

No Man’s Land Fort, located in the waters off the Isle of Wight, and Spitbank Sea Fort, nestled in the waters of Portsmouth Harbour, each have a guide price of £1million ahead of this month’s auction. 

It could be yours: No Man's Land Fort has a guide price for auction of £1m

It could be yours: No Man’s Land Fort has a guide price for auction of £1m

Robin Howeson, head of Savills Auctions, said: ‘Throughout my career as an auctioneer I’ve seen several sea forts hit the market that have achieved impressive prices as buyers have sought to pursue these trophy assets. 

‘Having been carefully restored by the current owners, No Man’s and Spitbank Fort represent exceptional market value, each guided at £1million. 

‘Both offer an opportunity like no other; a waterfront location, up to 99,000 sqft of space and a chance to champion the heritage and legacy of these iconic maritime structures.’

On the potential to add value to the forts, Howeson told MailOnline: ‘The avenues to add value to either Fort would depend on the intended end use. 

‘Previous planning permission exists to add a helicopter pad to Spitbank Fort, and a full marina with additional helicopter pad to No Mans Fort, making these structures more accessible to both owners and visitors. 

‘There would also be the opportunity to go green with the instalment of tidal power generators, or to convert the forts into a variety of other uses.’

Let’s take a closer look at the two sites going up for auction.

Wow factor: No Man's Land Fort is going up for auction via Savills on 18 June

Wow factor: No Man’s Land Fort is going up for auction via Savills on 18 June 

Stunning: No Man's Land Fort is secluded but remains easily accessible

Stunning: No Man’s Land Fort is secluded but remains easily accessible

Space matters: No Man's Fort comes with roughly 99,000 sq. ft. of space

Space matters: No Man’s Fort comes with roughly 99,000 sq. ft. of space

Divine: No Man's Land Fort boats panoramic views and could be yours to enjoy

Divine: No Man’s Land Fort boats panoramic views and could be yours to enjoy

Room with a view: No Man's Land Fort already has 23 ensuite bedrooms

Room with a view: No Man’s Land Fort already has 23 ensuite bedrooms 

Plush: The bathrooms on No Man's Land Fort have been finished to a high standard

Plush: The bathrooms on No Man’s Land Fort have been finished to a high standard

Charming: The bedrooms on No Man's Fort have been individually designed

Charming: The bedrooms on No Man’s Fort have been individually designed 

Fun times: No Man's Land Fort has a host of eating and drinking spaces available

Fun times: No Man’s Land Fort has a host of eating and drinking spaces available 

Where's the party? No Man's Land Fort is home to a myriad of event spaces

Where’s the party? No Man’s Land Fort is home to a myriad of event spaces 

Located off the Isle of Wight, No Man’s Land Fort is a Victorian island fort which has already been transformed into self-contained luxury private accommodation. 

Within this secluded yet accessible location, you will not be short of space. There is approximately 99,000 sq. ft. of space on offer, with old-world charm incorporated seamlessly with modern amenities. 

Boasting panoramic views, the site is already operating as a hotel and event space, and there’s significant potential to add further value. 

At present, the four-storey fort has 23 ensuite bedrooms, crew quarters, multiple bars and restaurants and a number of multi-purpose rooms, which are ideal for events like weddings and parties. 

The fort comes with a helipad in place and two landing stages for visitors by sea. 

The lowest level of the fort has been converted into entertaining space including laser battle, while the roof deck provides further facilities including hot tubs, a fire pit, bar and Nordic bothy. 

The newly opened Lord Nelson Pub, The Cabaret Bar nightclub and additional entertaining spaces are located on the upper and lower levels of the fort. 

The fort is fully self-contained with its own private water source in the form of an artesian well and comes equipped with marine generators, and sewage treatment plant. 

The site can be sold fully furnished, if desired. 

Privacy at last: Spitbank Sea Fort is great for privacy-seekers wanting easy mainland access

Privacy at last: Spitbank Sea Fort is great for privacy-seekers wanting easy mainland access

Outlook: Spitbank Sea Fort is close to the hub of Portsmouth Habour

Outlook: Spitbank Sea Fort is close to the hub of Portsmouth Habour 

Sit back and chill: Spitbank Sea Fort has roughly 33,000 sq. ft. of space

Sit back and chill: Spitbank Sea Fort has roughly 33,000 sq. ft. of space 

Yes please, captain: Spitbank Sea Fort is currently home to nine plush guest bedrooms

Yes please, captain: Spitbank Sea Fort is currently home to nine plush guest bedrooms

Retreat: The accommodation on Spitbank Sea Fort has been finished to a high standard

Retreat: The accommodation on Spitbank Sea Fort has been finished to a high standard

History: Spitbank Sea Fort's circular design was predominantly crafted from granite, brick and stone

History: Spitbank Sea Fort’s circular design was predominantly crafted from granite, brick and stone

Wine time: Enjoy panoramic views from the bar at Spitbank Sea Fort

Wine time: Enjoy panoramic views from the bar at Spitbank Sea Fort 

Event space: Spitbank Sea Fort has multiple event spaces available

Event space: Spitbank Sea Fort has multiple event spaces available 

Take a dip: Spitbank Sea Fort has a hot pool and a sauna on offer

Take a dip: Spitbank Sea Fort has a hot pool and a sauna on offer

Nestled in the waters off Portsmouth Harbour, Spitbank Sea Fort boasts approximately 33,000 sq. ft. of space and 15ft thick granite fort walls. 

The fort was constructed in the 1860s as part of a trio of forts to safeguard Portsmouth against potential naval threats from French ironclad warships.

It has been meticulously transformed into self-contained private accommodation. 

The site is currently home to nine high-end guest suites, a 60-covers restaurant, crew quarters and multiple event spaces. It is licensed for weddings. 

Subject to planning consent, the potential for alternative uses is available, including, Savills suggests, using the site as a casino, an ‘ultra private residence’, corporate offices or converting it into individual flats. 

Prospective buyers will also be pleased to hear that the fort also comes with a wine cave, roof terrace, sauna, hot pool, fire pit and sun decks. 

As with No Man’s Land Fort, Spitbank Sea Fort comes equipped with a private water source from an artesian well, marine generators for power and a sewage treatment plant. Furnishings can be negotiated, according to Savills. 

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