Hyams in new attack on MEPC

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The Independent Online
HARRY HYAMS, the reclusive property developer, has renewed his attack on MEPC, the property group which acquired his Oldham Estates company in 1987.

Sir Christopher Benson, addressing his last annual meeting as chairman of MEPC, said the group had received a letter from Mr Hyams last week in which he criticised the management and its philosophy.

In his letter Mr Hyams said the performance of the group had been 'unsatisfactory', and he particularly attacked the 'unnecessary' sale of income-producing assets to fund MEPC's development programme, which he described as 'ill-timed'.

Sir Christopher defended the group's actions, saying its policy 'long before Mr Hyams accepted our offer for Oldham' had been to build up a first-class property portfolio, funded by a mixture of property sales and borrowings.

He admitted that the board had not 'fully expected the extent to which the property market would decline from 1990', but added: 'We were not alone in that.'

Mr Hyams, who holds a 6.6 per cent stake in MEPC, did not attend the meeting but Ian McPhail, who described himself as a 'close friend', raised questions about Mr Hyams' attempts to meet MEPC's board and about Oldham's performance.

Sir Christopher said that Mr Hyams had asked to meet the board at one of its meetings.

The company refused, but invited him to meet all the directors informally following a board meeting.

On Oldham, he agreed with Mr McPhail's claim that it had contributed substantially all MEPC's profits, saying the acquisition 'is probably one of the better things MEPC did'.

'That is what I have been trying to say for the last six years,' replied Mr McPhail.