Serviced office operator Stonemartin said today it was in exclusive talks with one party to buy its main trading subsidiary Stonemartin Corporate Centres.

Richard Mead, chairman at Stonemartin, said at the company’s annual general meeting today that subject to shareholder approval it hoped to agree a deal before the end of the year.

The potential purchaser has not been named.

Following a successful transaction he said the board would take ‘immediate steps to return cash to shareholders as soon as possible’.

‘However shareholders should note that there can be no guarantee that a sale of the trading subsidiary will be concluded or that there will be any return of cash to shareholders in the near future,’ said Mead.

The decision followed the board’s review of the strategic options available to the company. The future of serviced office provider Stonemartin has hung in the balance for some time after it appointed Jones Lang LaSalle to raise third party finance last August.

Severed agreement

In April this year its backer and landlord – a joint venture between Morley and Hermes - severed its management agreement on buildings in Birmingham and Manchester.

Morley and Hermes had already ended the management agreement on the building it owns in Reading last August. Former managing director Colin Peacock also left in March.

Mead said today at the AGM that the termination of management agreements with Hermes and Morley which resulted in a compensation payment of £7m in cash before expenses was the ‘end of an era for the Company’.

He said that current trading was being impacted by the downturn and many tenants were putting additional space requirements on hold.

In its annual results last month Stonemartin showed an increase in turnover of 7% to £12.6m and a cut in pretax losses from £0.55m to £34,000.