West End landlord Shaftesbury has secured the support of two major investor groups as it braces for a showdown with shareholder Sammy Tak Lee at its annual general meeting this week.
Hong Kong billionaire Lee, who owns 26 per cent of the property group, last week called on investors to vote against three resolutions allowing the company to raise funds by allocating more shares.
But investor groups ISS and Glass Lewis have both backed the Shaftesbury board in the dispute, telling members to vote in favour of the resolutions. Royal London Asset Management, which has a 1.5 per cent stake in the property firm, has also come out in support of the board.
The dispute centres largely around a 2017 fundraising, which was used to buy 90-104 Berwick Street, a retail and residential development in Soho.
Lee, who is himself a major London landowner through the Langham Estate, last week accused Shaftesbury of trying to dilute his share in the company and called on shareholders to vote down the latest resolutions.
“I do not believe Shaftesbury's board can be relied upon to consider the best interests of shareholders when undertaking future share issues,” he said in a statement sent to investors.
Shaftesbury has denied the claims, saying the placing was needed to fund acquisitions and that Lee received more than 98 per cent of the shares for which he applied.
Two of the new resolutions require a three-quarters majority to pass, meaning Lee is able to vote them down single-handedly. But the third, which allows the creation of new shares, will come down to a majority vote.
The upcoming vote is the latest showdown in a long-running feud between the property billionaire and other shareholders. Lee successfully voted down two of the three resolutions at the company’s AGM last year.
Shaftesbury has also been caught up in speculation about a takeover by Norges Bank Investment Management, which has raised its stake in the firm to over 23 per cent.