Minerva raises pounds 71m to fund Piccadilly scheme

MINERVA, THE property company, is to raise pounds 71m through a rights issue, partly to fund a deal to buy the Criterion development in central London.

The company will acquire Criterion Developments, which owns 260,000 sq ft of accommodation in a building on Piccadilly Circus. The complex includes a restaurant run by Marco Pierre White and a theatre, which both take the Criterion name. It also has the 120,000 sq ft headquarters of McKinsey, the management consultancy, as well as the Lillywhites sports store and a Virgin Megastore.

Minerva said the deal was another high quality addition to its portfolio. "We are reviewing a number of exciting acquisitions and the rights issue will enable the group to pursue these opportunities." said chief executive Andrew Rosenfeld.

The new rights issue will entitle shareholders to buy one share in Minerva at 230p for every four shares they own. This offers a significant discount to yesterday's closing price of 264.5p.

Minerva confirmed that it had come to an outline agreement with retailer Allders, to buy its store in Croydon, Surrey, for pounds 50m, and lease back a redeveloped store at a rent rent of pounds 2.8m a year. The new Allders store will form the centrepiece of Minerva's proposed development of a shopping mall in Croydon. Planning permission is expected towards the end of next year. The company has just gained planning consent for St Botolph's House, its 529,000 sq ft office development in the City. It said that it expects to get consent for its other major City scheme, the 450,000 sq ft Walbrook development, in January. The chairman, David Garrard, said Minerva will not build the schemes speculatively and was talking to prospective tenants for St Botolph's House and potential occupiers had come forward for Walbrook.

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