THE QATARI sovereign wealth fund is close to winning a two month-long takeover battle for Songbird Estates after convincing the Canary Wharf owner’s three major shareholders to accept its £2.6bn offer.
The board of Songbird said yesterday that New York’s Glick Enterprises, which owns 29.5 per cent, China Investment Corporation with 15.8 per cent, and Morgan Stanley, with 8.5 per cent, plan to accept the 350p a share offer from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Brookfield.
The announcement came as a surprise because until now, the trio had given no indication that they would support the bid.
The board has long argued that the offer undervalues Songbird But with no other buyer willing to outbid the pair and holders of 86 per cent of the shares now backing the deal, it said minority investors should accept or else face owning shares in a private company that is harder to value.
The QIA already owned 28.6 per cent of Songbird, which in turn owns 69 per cent of Canary Wharf Group. Its partner Brookfield has 22 per cent of Canary Wharf Group. A successful takeover will pave the way for the bidders to take the company private and buyout the remaining shareholders in Canary Wharf Group, simplifying its complex structure.
Franklin Resources, which owns 7.1 per cent of Canary Wharf, has already agreed to sell its stake providing a takeover was successful. The deadline for shareholders to back the offer closes at 1pm today.
Canary Wharf’s sprawling 97-acre estate it home to 34 office buildings, 300 shops, with over 105,000 workers commuting to the predominantly financial district every day. Songbird previously said the £2.6bn offer did not factor in its growth potential – including the 20-acre Wood Wharf development site to the east – and fell short of its net asset value of 381p, which was revised in November..
However, the bidders argue that Songbird’s share price has consistently traded below its net asset value.