Well, well, well. The impossible has happened. The Qatari Investment Authority and Brookfield is set to take control of Songbird Estates, and with it one of Europe’s leading business districts, Canary Wharf.
As I suggested last week, China Investment Corporation and Morgan Stanley were swaying, but no one expected Simon Glick to switch. It seems he’s gone with the flow.
The bidders now have 85.6% backing for their 350p bid. It’s staggering. For weeks the Songbird board has been attempting to attract a higher offer from a new bidder, but unless something even more dramatic happens in the next 24 hours, this is over. Songbird has lost, and one of the most significant deals in UK property history is done.
In Songbird’s statement to the London Stock Exchange, it’s not until you get through three long paragraphs of foreplay before you get to the climax.
The 17 words of ecstasy to the bidding pair read: “It is now the board’s understanding that each of the major shareholders intends to accept the offer.”
Then, after many more reminders of how the bid undervalues the group, and how the bidders may delist the company, comes the paragraph many in the property world never thought they would read.
“The board recommends that, in the event that the offer becomes or is declared unconditional as to acceptances, shareholders should accept the offer.”
At the beginning of November, when QIA/Brookfield made their first approach, the Songbird board mocked them. Then, when the final 350p offer arrived in December they all but laughed them out of court, with insiders telling me there wasn’t a cat in hell’s chance the major shareholders would accept it.
Who’s laughing now?