The move will turn up the heat in a bidding battle between Westfield’s rival, Multiplex, which already owns a stake in Chelsfield. A source close to Chelsfield said that it was likely that a higher offer would be made, fuelling speculation that bids could top £600m.
Multiplex was part of the Duelguide consortium which took the company private earlier this year. The consortium also comprised Chairman, Elliott Bernerd, and the Reuben brothers.
However, it is understood that a rift has opened up between Bernerd and the Reubens, who own a large minority of the equity and are said to be behind the plan to sell the company so soon after it was taken private. It is believed they thought their 35% stake would give them management control over the company. In reality Bernerd, despite his smaller stake estimated at 14%, appears to be supported by other investors.
Chelsfield has been in the process of selling off its income-producing assets, including the £250m Paddington Basin scheme, a 60% stake in the prestigious Wentworth golf club in Surrey and the Merry Hill shopping centre in the West Midlands. Recently, the company sold its 50% stake in the White City regeneration scheme to the German fund, CGI, for £1.4bn.