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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
John Whittaker of Peel Holdings May Have a Revolt on His Hands.
THE planned acquisition by Trafford Centre owner Capital Shopping Centres of two parcels of land owned by John Whittaker, the founder of Manchester property investment giant Peel Group, faces more opposition from investors.
Shareholders - including Mr Whittaker who is CSC's deputy chairman and controls more than 20% of the group's shares - will vote on the controversial property deals on Friday.
The Sunday Times said investors, including Simon Property Group - which holds 4.1% of the stock, is planning to oppose the acquisitions of the land from Peel in Spain and Scotland.
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The £8.4m Spanish land aquisition which Peel had ear-marked for the development of Trafford Centre Espana - a 860.000sq ft leisure and shopping complex near Malaga - is seen as the most controversial deal.
US-based Simon Property Group - which last year threatened to bid for Capital Shopping Centres around the time of the group's £1.6bn acquisition of Peel's Trafford Centre - described the transaction as "sweetheart deals".Another CSC investor, Thames River, has also questioned the deal, describing it as "negative in the context of corporate governance."
A third group, Henderson Global Investors, says Mr Whittaker should abstain from the vote given the "conflicts of interest."
CSC has defended its position, with chief executive David Fischel descirbing claims of sweetheart deals as "nonsense" and that lawyers had carefully scrutinised the deals to ensure all was well.