Lok'nStore shares soar on bid approach

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The Independent Online

The self-storage warehouses group Lok'nStore has received a number of bid approaches, it said yesterday.

Talks began 10 days ago after an unsolicited takeover approach from what is rumoured to be a US group. The move has forced the AIM-listed minnow to put a share buy-back plan on hold, just as it was about to set a price for a £6m tender offer.

Andrew Jacobs, the chairman of Lok'nStore, said other expressions of interest had been received. Its shares leapt by almost a quarter to 97.5p, valuing the company at £28m.

Mr Jacobs said: "We felt uncomfortable having the negotiations whilst we were about to go into a huddle to decide on the tender offer. Now that is on the back burner it is easier to talk to people."

Negotiations are said to be at a preliminary stage, and may well stall over price. Lok'nStore raised £10m a little over a year ago at 155p per share, and investors may prove unwilling to sell out now at a loss.

The company - which has 18 warehouses in the South-east - began a campaign to improve its share price yesterday, disclosing new details of a planning application which could multiply the value of its site in Kingston, south-west London. Lok'nStore hopes to convert the site for housing and says it believes it will get planning permission for 150 homes.

Analysts said that could value this single site at about £35m - more than the value of the entire company.

Richard Jones, of the analysts Brewin Dolphin, said: "These sites are all in areas where you can get quite juicy planning gain, and we wonder if this might be even more extensive than Lok'nStore has admitted."

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