Active Value fund moves closer to liquidation

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Active Value's decision to start selling its stake in Wembley, one of its most profitable investments, is part of a wider realisation programme by the high-profile fund management business, which is now liquidating holdings and handing back cash to its main backers, Calpers - the Californian state pension fund - and Ontario Teachers, another retirement fund.

Active Value's decision to start selling its stake in Wembley, one of its most profitable investments, is part of a wider realisation programme by the high-profile fund management business, which is now liquidating holdings and handing back cash to its main backers, Calpers - the Californian state pension fund - and Ontario Teachers, another retirement fund.

Run by the South African duo, Brian Myerson and Julian Treger, Active Value was once the scourge of British boardrooms, seeking out underperforming companies and demanding change to improve the share price. However, since the pair famously lost more than £30m last year on a failed bid to scupper WPP's takeover of Cordiant, Active Value has been less visible. Yesterday the two men dismissed speculation that they would go their separate ways even though their fund, the eighth they have raised, is being liquidated. They said that while they were in the process of handing back cash from their various holdings, the possibility of launching a new fund remained.

"Our fund is on a realisation state," Mr Myerson said yesterday. "We may very well raise another fund." He said the process of realising the fund's various holdings, which include a £103m stake in Novar, the building materials business, could take several years. "We are concerned with generating value," he said. Mr Treger said: "I think we will see how things pan out. We are at the end of our investment period."

Active Value has in the past targeted some of the best-known names in British business including Liberty, the retail group, Pilkington, the glass maker, Greycoat, the property group and Signet, the jewellery chain. They have often proved dogged in their pursuit of companies that they believe are undervalued, although their tactics have generated criticism from some commentators.

Mr Myerson founded Active Value with Mr Treger in the late 1980s after his family made a fortune from diamonds, his grandfather becoming a sightholder for De Beers in 1933 which the family sold in the early 1980s. The pair have adopted an often aggressive approach to investing and have often made use of the press to pressure target companies into agreeing to their demands.

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