Clegg in frame at Greycoat

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TONY CLEGG, the larger- than-life 1980s property developer who built up Mountleigh, has entered the fray at Greycoat, which has been thrown into turmoil by the failure of a bid from Postel.

Mr Clegg, who used to commute in a helicopter, has been advising Gruss & Partners, the US firm of arbitrageurs holding 14 per cent of Greycoat's preference shares that has emerged as one of the key players in deciding the company's future.

Gruss, whose chairman Martin Gruss is believed to have flown to London to oversee the deal personally, has hired Mr Clegg to give an estimate of how much Greycoat's properties could raise if sold on the open market.

During the 1980s, Mr Clegg gained a reputation as one the foremost property traders, and last week it emerged that he was keen to buy into a property company to take advantage of the mini-boom in UK commercial properties.

He is alsobelieved to have bought some preference shares in Greycoat himself, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Gruss is one of the groups currently considering whether to bid for Greycoat. Another, the UK Value Fund led by Julian Treger and Brian Myerson, met with Gruss earlier ths week to see if Gruss would accept the terms of a possible takeover bid. Any bidder will need the support of four classes of shareholder and bondholder before a deal can go through.

A third bidder, John Ritblat's British Land, is also courting Gruss, and it is believed the two may be prepared to join forces to make an offer for Greycoat. British Land has set up a fund to invest in UK property with the famed US investor George Soros.

Mr Ritblat is understood to have met the Greycoat board last week but to have failed to secure its support for a bid.

Greycoat shares ended the week up 4p at 31p on Friday after the company said that it had received a number of tentative bid approaches.