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Laxey dumps Shaftesbury

ACTIVIST investor Laxey Partners yesterday dumped its 19 per cent stake in Shaftesbury, just a week after supporting a &pound;149m rights issue by the property company.<br /><br />Laxey yesterday appointed broker JP Morgan Cazenove as sole bookrunner for the placing of just over 25.7m shares and around 17.2m nil-paid rights in Shaftesbury, which owns large chunks of real estate in Carnaby Street and Covent Garden. The shares were placed at 282p each, while the nil-paid rights were trading at nearer 100p. The holding was worth around &pound;130m, but Laxey looks set to take a &pound;40m hit by quitting Shaftesbury for just &pound;90m. <br /><br />The activist investor based in Jermyn Street bought into Shaftesbury when it took a 14.5 per cent stake in the firm last year, but the investor&rsquo;s surprise exit from the group has stunned the market.<br /><br />Shaftesbury chief executive Johnathan Lane yesterday told City A.M. he had &ldquo;no idea&rdquo; of the reason behind Laxley&rsquo;s decision to pull out.<br /><br />Lane said: &ldquo;The crucial thing is at the general meeting Laxey voted in favour of increasing the share and on the resolution. They liked and supported our strategy.&rdquo;<br /><br />But yesterday market sources said there was a clash of interests, with Laxey pressing for short term gains. Laxey was also said to be angered by the way Shaftesbury had leaked the fundraising. Laxley is thought to be developing a separate interest in Spazio Investment, a Dutch real estate business. Spazio Investment earlier in the week confirmed it had received an all cash offer of &euro;4.50 (&pound;3.83) per share from Laxley. <br /><br />Shaftesbury yesterday closed down by 2.9 per cent at 300p.<br /><br /><strong>ROBERT FOWLDS</strong><br /><strong>MANAGING DIRECTOR<br />JP MORGAN CAZENOVE</strong><br />Robert Fowlds, managing director at JP Morgan Cazenove was appointed as adviser to Laxey Partners&rsquo; stake sale in Shaftesbury property group, under the lead of Greg Chamberlain.<br /><br />Fowlds joined the real estate team as managing director in corporate finance in 2006. Previously he was an equity analyst at Merrill Lynch and joint head of the real estate research team, which was voted number one in City rankings for 11 years in a row. <br /><br />His career as an analyst spanned 20 years, mainly at Merrill Lynch and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson. His first job was as a Chartered Surveyor with DTZ and Gooch and Wagstaff, specialising in development and investment. Fowlds also has a BSc in Land Management and an MBA in Finance.<br /><br />Among JP Morgan Cazenove property clients are Land Securities, Helical Bar, Grainger Trust, Warner Estate Holdings, Shaftesbury, London Merchant Securities, Insight Foundation Property Trust and St Modwen Properties, which Fowlds advised on its recent &pound;107.4m cash call.