Kirsh ruled out of bid talks with Minerva

 
Marion Dakers
LONDON property developer Minerva revealed it is holding preliminary takeover talks with an unnamed potential buyer, which has already propelled its shares upwards and is set to do the same this morning.

The identity of the predator remained a mystery yesterday, with Minerva’s advisers remaining tight-lipped about the ongoing talks.

However, industry sources ruled out a number of City real estate players including Land Securities and British Land.

One property insider said the interested party was likely to be an opportunity fund.
Minerva declined to comment.

Minerva announced the talks after its shares jumped 11 per cent to 87p on Friday, prompting the Takeover Panel to contact the firm for clarification.

Friday’s share price gives the firm a £140m valuation. Minerva’s board stressed in its statement to the stock exchange that the talks might not lead to a formal offer.

It is the third time in as many years that the company has been circled by potential buyers, most recently by activist shareholder Nathan Kirsh in 2009. It is understood that Kirsh is not the interested party this time.

Kirsh criticised the firm for failing to find a tenant for its Walbrook development on Cannon Street (pictured), which has stood empty since completion in February.

BRIAN CASSIN
GREENHILL & CO
Helping Minerva field calls from potential bidders is familiar ground for Brian Cassin of Greenhill & Co, who advised the company during its successful defence against Kirsh’s takeover advances in January 2010.

Cassin joined Greenhill in 1998, having previously worked for six years with Baring Brothers International in London and New York.

Cassin’s recent deals include advising Emerson during its battle to take over Chloride, in which it eventually paid out £997m to fend off rival ABB.

He worked closely with Simon Borrows, Greenhill’s chairman of European operations, before Borrows went part-time in April 2010.

Cassin then became co-head of European corporate advisory. While advising Minerva, Cassin has worked to deflect several advances from activist shareholder Nathan Kirsh, who attempted to take over Minerva in 2009 and tried to oust the board of directors in mid-2010.