Stanhope offer terms signal Lipton's return

Shares in Stanhope Properties resumed trading yesterday on the Unlisted Securities Market at 3p following the publication of British Land recommended offer for the debt-laden property group.

The proposed deal includes the sale of the Stanhope name to its founder and chairman Stuart Lipton for £325,000.

Mr Lipton controls a company called Bruton Projects, which would buy "certain assets'' including office furniture and equipment from Stanhope.

The purchase by Mr Lipton, once one of Britain's most dynamic property entrepreneurs, is being seen as the vehicle to rebuild his property interests.

Stanhope was the driving force behind Broadgate, one of London's most prestigious commercial property developments, which would be half-owned by British Land should its deal go through.

Although the deal was initially resisted, Stanley Honeyman, the Stanhope chairman, said yesterday that prospects for Stanhope's creditors, shareholders and employees under the offer were better than those in receivership.

The deal was announced on 19 January for British Land to buy Stanhope for 3p a share in cash with a share alternative. The shares were suspended on 22 December at 8p.

Conditions of the deal include British Land's purchase of Stanhope's outstanding bank debt for £122m, the surrender of a lease at Lansdowne House and the sale of its interest in Stanhope Kajima, an investment and development joint venture, to Hackremco for £2.6m. It is also proposed that Stanhope Interior be sold to its management.

British Land's recommended bid for Stanhope last month ended weeks of uncertainty about the property group, which was brought to the brink of collapse by Britain's property slump.

The deal gives British Land a 50 per cent stake in Broadgate and pre- emption rights over the other half owned by Stanhope's partner Rosehaugh, now in receivershp.

British Land wants the other half of Broadgate, but Rosehaugh's receivers have failed to agree a price and the matter is likely to go to an independent arbiter.

Full ownership could mean British Land taking on total debt of £800m. The Stanhope deal gives British Land almost 2million sq ft of property which is currently renting at about £32.50 per sq ft. Shares in British Land were 1p lower at 368p.

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