Canary Wharf owner Songbird Estates rejects Qatar offer again

Emma Haslett
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The offer is the latest in a series of rejections from Songbird (Source: Getty)

Songbird Estates, the company behind Canary Wharf, has formally rejected yet another offer from the Qatari sovereign wealth fund.

The company said it won't accept the 350p-a-share offer, by the Qatari Investment Authority and Brookfield Property Partners, on the grounds that it doesn't reflect "the full value of the business, its unique operating platform and its prospects".

Songbird pointed out that the offer is at a "significant discount of 8.1 per cent" to Songbird's net asset value of 381p per share, and that it gives no value to "the potential of Canary Wharf Group to earn development profits".

It added that it also gives no value for the growth potential of the existing Canary Wharf estate, which currently has planning permission for Wood Wharf, which will include 900 homes and up to 200,000 sq ft of office space.

The Qataris, who already own a 28.6 per cent share of Songbird, and Brookfield, which owns a 22 per cent stake in Canary Wharf Group, tabled the renewed 350p-per-share offer at the beginning December, following their original bid of 295p per share in November.

Major investors in Songbird Estates, including Third Avenue Management and Madison International Realty, have both publicly lent their support to the bid. But today Songbird pointed out that its three largest shareholders (excluding the Qataris), Glick, China Investment Corporation and MS, have "each informed the board that they are continuing to evaluate the offer".

Sources close to the deal have previously told City A.M. the offer was "way off", and that Songbird's board is unlikely to accept any offer lower than 400p per share.

David Pritchard, Songbird's chairman, said the board remained "unmoved" by the latest offer.

The offer gives no value for Canary Wharf Group's potential to earn development profits or for the growth potential of the existing estate and fails to take into account the value for its control of the estate.... With the commencement of four separate development projects delivering 22 buildings over the next 5 years and an overall development pipeline of 11.5m sq ft, the board is confident that Songbird will continue to deliver value to its shareholders.

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