Stanhope team cash in with stake sale to Japanese

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The Independent Online

The management team of British property developer Stanhope cashed in around £6m of their 75 per cent stake in the company yesterday, selling a 15 per cent share in the business to the Japanese property company Mitsui Fudosan.

The chief executive David Camp and his management were thought to have made a tidy profit on the sale. The team bought out the 44 per cent stake owned by Stanhope's founder Sir Stuart Lipton at the end of last year in a deal which was estimated to have valued the company at around £20m. Yesterday's sale gives the business an estimated value of around £40m.

Earlier this year, Mr Camp and his team sold down some of their stake to veteran property entre-preneur Ian Laing and his partner Nick Cross. The pair now have a 20 per cent stake in the business, while Mr Camp and his management still own 65 per cent. However, Mr Camp intends to continue reducing the management's stake to around 50 per cent over the coming months.

Stanhope said the external shareholders will provide the company with access to new capital sources and expertise. The group is to focus on developing new headquarters for companies and large mixed-use developments in central London. The group is already involved in two large projects in the City of London, in partnership with fund manager Schroders - one near Fenchurch Street Station, and another near Moorgate.

Commenting on the deal, Mr Camp said: "With the introduction of Mitsui Fudosan as partner and shareholder, the company is now in a strong position to begin the next chapter in its evolution and we are greatly excited about taking the company forward with our first class team of partners and employees. The ownership structure which is now in place will provide long-term stability as Stanhope embarks on a period of growth."

Motomitsu Morimoto, the managing director of Mitsui Fudosan (UK), added: "With a skill set and culture that complements our own, we believe that the Stanhope team will be an ideal partner for us. London is a key global market for Mitsui Fudosan and our relationship with Stanhope will give us access to their considerable expertise in sourcing and delivering development projects here."

Sir Stuart Lipton is still an adviser to Stanhope and has retained a stake in the group's £4bn project to develop Stratford. He is also pursuing other opportunities via Chelsfield Partners, a company which he founded with Elliott Bernerd.

Ian Laing is better known for his involvement with Milton Park, a business park near Abingdon in Oxfordshire. He and Mr Cross carried out one of the industry's first management buyouts in the early 1980s, taking a 20 per cent stake in the park, before cashing in several million pounds when they sold it on in 1993 to MEPC.

Since then, the pair have been involved in a number of start-ups including chemical products provider Oxford Asymmetry International, which was floated on the London market in 1998 and bought for more than £300m in 2000.

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