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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum