Chelsfield chief seeks time to bid

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The Independent Online

Elliott Bernerd called for more time yesterday to organise his £860m bid for Chelsfield, the property company which he founded and currently chairs.

Chelsfield's independent directors said that although a fully funded offer from the consortium led by Mr Bernerd was expected "by mid-November", the company had been informed that "this will be delayed into December". One insider said a formal bid was likely to be tabled in the first 10 days of December.

Mr Bernerd's group had proposed an offer price of 305p in an announcement in October but despite the independent directors stating at the time that this "may not fully reflect the long-term value of the company" - a warning reiterated yesterday - Mr Bernerd is not expected to lift the offer if it is confirmed next month.

Standard Life, which owns 3.3 per cent of the company, said in October that "any bid below 400p undervalues the company".

The independent directors said yesterday that they were "fully aware of the uncertainty that has surrounded the company" since Mr Bernerd first approached them about a potential management buyout in May but there could be "no assurance that any offer will be forthcoming".

Although yesterday's update stated that "a number of parties have expressed an interest in considering a possible offer", analysts said the complexity of putting together a valuation of a company such as Chelsfield could preclude any other bids coming in by the December deadline.

Chelsfield shares closed down 1.5p at 314.5p.