Row over profit at heart of fight for property developer Minerva

South African shareholder demands company disclose 'important financial information'

A furious private row over potential profits is driving the public battle over the management of Minerva, the listed property company behind two of the City's biggest office schemes.

Minerva told the Stock Exchange, on Wednesday, that it had overwhelmingly rejected proposals by its largest shareholder, the billionaire South African investor Nathan Kirsh, to oust its chief executive, Salmaan Hasan, and chairman, Oliver Whitehead.

It made public an acrimonious wrangle that began earlier this month when Mr Kirsh, in a private meeting with Minerva and its legal representatives, demanded the management's removal because of its failure to disclose "important financial information".

Through his investment vehicle, Kifin, Mr Kirsh wants to know what percentage, if any, of the future profits from The Lancasters, Minerva's upmarket scheme overlooking Hyde Park, have been pledged as additional security to its banks. He thinks Minerva has used this to help underpin the company's £750m debt refinancing completed last September.

The Lancasters, which Minerva is developing in a joint venture with Northacre, completes next summer. Earlier this month, Minerva raked in £107.5m from selling 11 apartments and has sold about half of the flats for £230m.

Mr Kirsh has asked Minerva for details of leasing targets it agreed to meet at two high-profile office schemes – The Walbrook and St Botolphs – that it is developing in London's Square Mile. He is also seeking clarification of the fee Minerva must pay its bankers when it repays its debt. Kifin said its actions were motivated by Minerva's failure to answer "certain rudimentary questions" and concerns about its "future viability under the present management". It has proposed installing its representative, Philip Lewis, as an interim chief executive as well as another non-executive director.

Minerva has dismissed the actions of Kifin, which owns 29.94 per cent of the FTSE 250 company, as a "cynical attempt" to gain control of the company "without paying a premium to shareholders for that control" following a failed takeover attempt last year.

Mr Kirsh made a 50p a share offer to buy Minerva in November, which valued the company at £84.5m net of debt. His bid followed Minerva's extension, restructuring and refinancing of all loan facilities. It has no scheduled loan maturities in the current or next financial year and key financial covenant tests have been deferred or removed.

Minerva said that the board considers Kifin's actions to "be wholly inappropriate and not in the interests of shareholders as a whole".

Minerva shares have risen by 450 per cent since Mr Kirsh invested. He is best known for his $3.5bn US business, Jetro Cash & Carry, which he founded with Warren Buffett. Minerva's shares closed at 101.5p on Friday.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star