British Property Award Winner 2017
LONDON — Shaftesbury, the property firm which owns large chunks of central London, has taken its feud with its top investor Samuel Tak Lee public, amid speculation the Hong Kong billionaire is eyeing a takeover bid.
Shaftesbury owns a £3 billion property portfolio in
Chinatown, Soho, and Carnaby Street. It said
in a statement on Thursday that it received a letter from
Lee, who has built up a 25.02% stake in the company, of his
intention to vote against renewing Resolutions 16, 17, and 18 at
its 2018 AGM.
The Times newspaper reported last year that company directors
believe Lee has been quietly amassing a 25% stake as a prelude to
a full takeover bid, and blocking the resolutions could
strengthen his ability to do so.
If renewed, Resolution 16 would give company directors — who say
Lee has refused ever to meet with them — the ability to
issue new shares in exchange for cash, a common means of raising
Resolutions 17 and 18 would allow company directors to issue
share capital without being obliged to first offer those shares
to existing shareholders — something known as
"non-preemptive share issuing." It means Lee would not be
automatically entitled to a 25% stake of any new shares, as he
would under a pre-emptive arrangement.
Issuing shares non-preemptively can prevent shareholders
increasing their stake in a company every time it raises capital.
in the letter that the company's decision to issue shares in
December 2017 without offering shareholders the first
option to buy had "caused me great concern," and said the
arrangement was "prejudicial" to existing shareholders.
Shaftesbury chairman Jonathan Nicholls said in the
statement that it "continues to consider that all of the
resolutions to be proposed ... are in the best interests of the
Company and its shareholders as a whole and they unanimously
recommend that shareholders vote in favour of them."
He said the board "does not agree with the statements
made and sentiments expressed by Mr Lee in the attached letter to
shareholders, but respects his right and stated intention to vote
against certain resolutions being proposed."
Lee, 78, owns vast swathes of commercial property in London's
West End through the company Langham Estate.
Resolution 16 requires only 50% of the votes cast on the
resolution, so cannot be blocked by Lee acting alone.
Resolutions 17 and 18 require 75% shareholder approval, which
means they will not pass without his approval.
The AGM is being held on February 9.
Story Credited to Business Insider 01st February 2018.
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