Songbird edges closer to acceptance for open offer

City A.M. Reporter
CANARY Wharf-owner Songbird Estates yesterday said it had received the backing of shareholders representing 95.3 per cent of the new ordinary shares under an open offer designed to raise £140m.

The new ordinary shares are expected to shortly commence dealing on the Alternative Investment Market as the company, which counts Qatar Holdings and China Investment Corporation among its largest shareholders, looks to pay down its debts.

Last month Songbird said bumper demand for offices across its estate had held firm despite the lacklustre economic outlook. It reported the market value of its investment portfolio rose to £4.8bn in the half year to the end of June, reflecting a six per cent rise in adjusted net asset value of 178p a share.

Proceeds from the fully underwritten open offer will be used to finance the repurchase of a £135m shareholder loan taken out at the time of a £1bn corporate refinancing a year ago.

Songbird was hit by the collapse of failed US investment bank Lehman Brothers two years ago, which resulted in it losing more than £50m in lost rent on its Bank Street offices. That contributed to an 85 per cent fall in underlying half-year profits to £13.1m in the six month period.