Liberty confirms interest in Chelsfield

Liberty International said yesterday that it was considering making a formal expression of interest in bidding for Chelsfield, while Hammerson is also understood to be pondering a bid.

The Chelsfield Chairman, Elliott Bernerd, tabled a 305p-per-share offer for the company earlier this month, which has not been accepted by the company’s independent directors. Although the MBO bid has not been rejected outright, Chelsfield’s independent directors believe it undervalues the company and are keen to attract other offers. Bernerd himself has said he would accept a higher recommended cash offer.

David Fischel, Chief Executive of Liberty, said yesterday: “We are aware of the company’s announcement, we are considering it, but we have not yet made a decision. In light of that statement it may be worth someone taking a look.”

Although Hammerson declined to comment, it is understood to be considering a bid. Last year the company trumped an MBO offer for the retail parks specialist, Grantchester.

Chelsfield would be a good fit for either Liberty or Hammerson, as all three companies own regional shopping centres.

Most analysts believe Liberty to be the most likely bidder. “Buying Chelsfield would fit in with Liberty’s strategy”, said Andrew Penny, an analyst at JP Morgan.

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