Ritblat's Delancey makes £194m offer for Minerva

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The Independent Online

Minerva, the property developer that counts the Walbrook building in the City of London as one of its developments, has received a £194m cash offer from a consortium including Jamie Ritblat's Delancey investment firm.

Delancey and the real estate fund manager Area Property Partners have put forward a possible offer of 120.5p per share – a premium of more than 20 per cent to Minerva's 99.25p closing price on Wednesday. Minerva's shares jumped 15 per cent to 113.75p when the announcement was made.

News of the bid comes after the company announced in January that it was in discussions regarding possible offers for the business, whose developments also include the Odeon Cinema building in Kensington and the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth.

Subject to certain conditions, Minerva's board said it expected to recommend the offer.

Mr Ritblat is well known in property circles and is the son of the former British Land chairman Sir John Ritblat. He took Delancey private in 2001.

Today, the firm, which counts George Soros among its investors, boasts a portfolio of properties that includes the Rolls building in Fetter Lane, in the City of London. Mr Ritblat's consortium, which made its approach through a special-purpose vehicle called Jupiter Properties 2011, may yet face competition, however, with a number of other property investors rumoured to be interested in the company.

Possible counter bidders include Apollo Global Management, the private equity firm which has been said to have had its eye on Minerva. Other potential suitors include the Whitehall property funds run by the Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs, and Limitless, a unit of Dubai World, which made an abortive cash offer for the group in 2008.

The Limitless proposal was followed by an offer from KiFin, a vehicle backed by the South African property magnate Nathan Kirsh, which also failed with 50p per share approach in late 2009.