Chelsfield split over sale of Wentworth

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The Independent Online

Elliott Bernerd, the property entrepreneur, will today be accused by fellow shareholders in Chelsfield of trying to sell off the company's interest in the Wentworth golf course "on the cheap".

Elliott Bernerd, the property entrepreneur, will today be accused by fellow shareholders in Chelsfield of trying to sell off the company's interest in the Wentworth golf course "on the cheap".

The dispute within Chelsfield, which was taken private earlier this year, will pit Mr Bernerd against fellow shareholders the billionaire Reuben brothers, Multiplex, the Australian construction group, and Royal Bank of Scotland. Sources said the rift could even lead to the Reubens and RBS accepting one of the takeover approaches for Chelsfield that have been tabled by Multiplex and another Australian company, Westfield.

Already, minority shareholders in Wentworth have denounced the acceptance by Mr Bernerd of a £100m offer for the club from his associate Richard Caring, the clothing supplier also close to Philip Green. Now it has emerged that Chelsfield, which owns 60 per cent of Wentworth, is itself split on the issue.

Mr Bernerd's stake in Chelsfield is only 14 per cent. The Reuben brothers hold 35 per cent. A source close to the majority shareholders of Chelsfield said: "The [majority] shareholders will block attempts to sell off Wentworth to Richard Caring on the cheap."

Mr Bernerd agreed last week to sell the club to Mr Caring for £100m. Subsequently an offer of £102m was made by the businessman Sean Quinn, but Mr Bernerd turned it down. Surinder Arora, a Wentworth shareholder, is also planning to exercise his pre-emption rights with a £100m bid for the club.

Mr Bernerd said this week that the sales process had gone on long enough. He recommended investorsaccept Mr Caring's money unless another party offers at least 10 per cent more.

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