But any relief felt by Greycoat chief executive Peter Thornton over the departure of the troublesome shareholder will be tempered by the news that a rival company now controls UKAV’s 11.6% stake.
The arrival of Delancey, headed by james ritblat, with major shareholder Quantum, controlled by George Soros, has prompted obvious suggestions of a takeover battle. Delancey and Quantum have paid an initial £13.9m (165p a share) to UKAV and have a pre-emption right to buy another 4.2m shares for an estimated £6.9m.
But it is debatable whether Delancey will bid for Greycoat. In December there were rumours that Wates City of London Properties might be interested in Greycoat after it acquired a 2% stake, but the prospects of a merger are unlikely.
The bottom line for Wates and Delancey is that property shares are currently much cheaper than physical property because they are trading at such large discounts to their net asset value. Greycoat’s shares, for example, were bought by Wates at 129p and by Delancey at 165p, compared with the company’s historic NAV of 220p.