Minerva slips as bidder hits out at board

PROPERTY group Minerva saw its shares dip yesterday after its biggest shareholder, Nathan Kirsh, who has launched a hostile bid, accused the board of damaging the company’s prospects.

Kirsh, who owns 29.9 per cent of Minerva through his investment vehicle KiFin and has mounted a takeover bid worth £85m, said: “The actions taken by the board of Minerva over the past few weeks have not enhanced the long-term value of Minerva shares.”

The South African investor cited Minerva’s Wigmore Street sale, which he believes was at a lower price than could have been achieved, and the recent announcement of its anticipated letting at St Botolphs with a three-year rent-free period and possibly other concessions.

“Minerva remains a company with high financial gearing, funding to complete only three of its projects already under way and a company which KiFin believes faces significant challenges in obtaining tenants, even for these developments, on long-term value-enhancing commercial terms,” KiFin said.

Minerva shares dropped 1.75p to 75.75p, but they remain well above the 50p in cash Kirsh has offered.

Minerva was last week forced to issue a clarification statement to the stock exchange after its chief executive Salmaan Hasan claimed its net asset value per share could rise to 200p per share if the recovery in the property market continues. That’s more than double the 95p the company was valued at in its defence document against Kirsh’s bid.

Even though Kirsh admitted a week ago that his bid only had acceptances from shareholders owning 0.34 per cent of Minerva, he insisted yesterday that he had “no need of any partners and is not seeking any in relation to the offer”.