Simon group renews pursuit of CSC with £3bn approach

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The Independent Online

Simon Property Group renewed its bid to block Capital Shopping Centre's plans to buy the Trafford Centre near Manchester yesterday, unveiling a £3bn takeover proposal and forcing CSC to put off a shareholder vote on the planned acquisition.

The company spurned the 425p per share indicative cash proposal from the US group, and said it was seeking a "put up or shut up" deadline from the Takeover Panel. If set, Simon, which owns 5.1 per cent of CSC, would have to make a formal offer by the prescribed date or walk away for six months.

A source familiar with the discussions said the CSC board was reluctant to delay Monday's investor vote on the Trafford deal, but had no option but to postpone the meeting until next month. Pushing ahead risked exposing them to the charge of not giving investors enough time to study the offer, the source added.

The saga dates back to last month, when CSC announced a £1.6bn deal to buy the Peel Group-owned Trafford Centre. The deal would also make Peel, which is controlled by the Yorkshire-based billionaire John Whittaker, the biggest shareholder in Capital.

Simon objected, asking for time to put together its own bid, claiming that CSC was "overpaying" and requesting access to CSC's books. Simon also threatened to sell its stake.

Yesterday Capital, whose portfolio includes the Lakeside centre in Essex, said the proposal was inadequate as it undervalued the company and was subject to due diligence and financing. It also expressed surprise at the fact that the offer was subject to approval by Simon's own board.