Lipton loses claim to Stanhope share

THE HIGH COURT has thrown out the claim by Stuart Lipton of Stanhope Securities that he had a pre-emptive right to the 29.9 per cent holding in Stanhope bought earlier this year by John Ritblat's British Land Group from the Bank of Nova Scotia.

The bank acquired the shares as part of the assets of Olympia & York. In a judgment handed down on Friday, Mr Justice Vinelott ruled that Mr Lipton 'had no cause for action' and refused to allow an appeal.

The way is now clear for Mr Ritblat to negotiate a deal with Stanhope to give him full control of Rosehaugh-Stanhope, its joint venture with Godfrey Brandman's now-bankrupt Rosehaugh group which developed the massive Ludgate and Broadgate office centres in the City of London.

Broadgate is 97 per cent let and, though the recession held it back, two thirds of Ludgate has now been let and is expected to be cash-positive next year.

Although Rosehaugh's receiver is on record as being in no hurry to sell the stake, it would be extremely difficult for him to reject a serious offer by Mr Ritblat.

Mr Lipton is not yet in a position to make a counter-offer for Rosehaugh's half of the joint venture. Although Stanhope's losses have fallen, he is still negotiating with his bankers to reschedule the company's outstanding borrowings, which remain at pounds 135m.

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