Hong Kong billionaire Sammy Tak Lee has ratcheted up a shareholder feud at one of London’s biggest landlords this morning, after telling investors to vote against resolutions that would allow the company to raise money through allocating more shares.
West End property group Shaftesbury is bracing itself for its second investor revolt in two years after Lee, who owns 26 per cent of the FTSE 250 firm, shared his intentions today to vote against three upcoming resolutions at the firm’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
An investor showdown next Friday is set to come 12 months after Lee launched a similar attack on the group, when he successfully blocked two of the three resolutions at last year’s AGM.
It is expected that two of this year’s three resolutions will also fall short at the AGM following opposition from Lee, who himself owns a set of London properties around Oxford Street through his Langham Estate arm.
Much of the furore revolves around the 2017 fundraising used to buy 90-104 Berwick Street, with Lee accusing Shaftesbury of not needing to use a share placing to finance the purchase.
Lee has accused Shaftesbury, which owns larges parts of the West End including swathes of Carnaby Street and Chinatown, of being "motivated by a desire to dilute his interest" in the company, but the landlord has refuted the claims, saying that the 2017 placing was needed to fund acquisitions.
The remarks are the latest twist in a long battle between Lee and other shareholders in Shaftesbury, which has been funding acquisitions through raising equity in share issues rather than by acquiring more debt.
Speculation of a takeover tussle between Lee and Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which owns more than 23 per cent of the group, has also mounted, with both investors upping their stake in the firm over recent months.
The property giant also hit back today at Lee’s claim that it will not engage with him in writing, saying that it has responded "promptly and appropriately" to numerous letters from Lee's legal team.
“The board does not agree with the statements made and sentiments expressed by Mr Lee in the… statement to shareholders, but respects his right and stated intention to vote against certain resolutions being proposed at the forthcoming AGM,” the group said in a response.