Shareholders throw out bid for Greycoat

Both sides' lawyers are claiming victory in the bitter six-week long shareholder battle over property company Greycoat.

Property company Moorfield Estates last week withdrew an offer to buy its larger rival Greycoat after shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting voted to reject its bid. But in the process, Greycoat, advised by Herbert Smith, has agreed to put its prestigious £200 million property Embankment Place on the market and give the proceeds to shareholders.

The fight started when disaffected 11 per cent Greycoat shareholders Brian Myerson and Julian Treger of UK Active Value, advised by Kevin Dean, partner at Sinclair Roche & Temperley, called an emergency general meeting.

Dean has been meeting Myerson and Treger over breakfast every morning to discuss tactics in the battle. He said: “They have a unique company and it's a unique job advising them.”

The pair's speciality is to call egms of companies in which they invest and to encourage other investors to make a takeover bid, thus boosting the share value. In the process they generate a lot of publicity and some bitterness from the boards they attack.

Greycoat's lawyer, corporate partner David Paterson of Herbert Smith, said: “This whole process has been a PR man's dream. UK Active Value has conducted the whole thing in the press.”

Paterson said that a few days before the first egm it was clear UK Active Value was talking to other investors and another bidder might come forward.

He said: “It was in their interests, therefore, to call an adjournment and see if another bidder came out of the woodwork. I anticipated that and told the board the day before that meeting was called.”

He conceded that Greycoat had been forced to bring forward plans to sell Embankment Place: “But it was part of their long-term plan to sell it in any case. It's by far their largest property and forms quite a lump in their portfolio.”

Herbert Smith usually acts for Moorfield Estates, but because of the obvious conflict of interest, Moorfields instructed Cameron Markby Hewitt in this bid.