Leading shareholders of Hirco, the AIM-listed real estate fund of the Hiranandani group, are likely to support the group’s move to restructure Hirco, by merging two real estate subsidiaries with it.
According to a person close to the Hiranandani group, “The proposal to restructure has originated from shareholders. About 90% of them are supporting the proposal,” he said, declining to be quoted. “A board meeting is scheduled sometime later this month to take the final call on the plan,” he added.
The move has however run up against stiff opposition from another section of shareholders who are reportedly planning to jointly oppose such a move as they feel, it would give the Hiranandani group, control over Hirco.
Extraordinary general meeting on January 16, in Mumbai, for shareholders to vote on the restructuring proposal. Hirco will begin roadshows for investors early next week.
Niranjan Hiranandani, chairman of the Hiranandani group, didn’t comment as it is the silent period – the period ahead of the company’s results when senior officials don’t make forward looking statements.
Reports in the British media on Wednesday had suggested that certain shareholders were opposing the restructuring plan, which they say, would dilute shareholding interests and effectively cede control to the Hiranandanis.
According to the reports, a section of investors led by Laxey Partners, an activist shareholder with over 10% shareholding in Hirco, have termed the restructuring plan as “shocking and ill-conceived.”
In a letter, Laxey wrote to other shareholders urging them to join it in voting against the plan, which involves injecting a loss-making development vehicle ownded by the Hiranandani family, into Hirco, and handing the family an equity stake of up to 50.6% in Hirco.
As part of the proposal, shareholders will lose their preferential claim on £350.8 million of shares that pay an annual dividend of 12%.
On December 18, the Hirco board had proposed the merger, through which, Hirco would acquire two special purpose vehicles owned by the Hiranandanis. These two companies are carrying out township developments at Panvel, near Mumbai and in Chennai.
There are currently many foreign funds that own large stakes in Hirco, including UK’s Standard Life (13.11%), HSBC Holdings (10.13%), Laxey Partners (10.05%), Halbis Capital (7.84%), Fortress Investment (4.57%) and Lazard AM (4.57%).
The Hiranandani group which is unlisted in India, holds less than 20% of the invested entity. The merger proposal, once implemented would take the Hiranandani group holding to over 50%.
Hirco, which listed on the AIM in 2006, had raised more than £380 million for investing in residential properties in India.
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