LONDON (Reuters) - The Singaporean billionaire trying to buy Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (MLC.L)(M&C) has hired advisory firm Georgeson to help to drum up investor support for the deal in the face of shareholder opposition that could derail the bid.
City Developments Limited (CDL), the vehicle of businessman Kwek Leng Beng, has offered 620 pence per share to acquire the 34.8 percent of M&C that it does not already own in a bid that values the London-listed hotelier at 2 billion pounds.
However, the offer has been criticised by three of M&C’s minority investors, who have spurned the bid and called on other shareholders to follow suit.
The trio -- International Value Advisers, MSD Partners and Classic Fund Management -- have said they represent about 37 percent of the stock that Kwek, who also acts as M&C’s chairman, has offered to buy.
If opposition to CDL’s bid mounts, the offer is at risk of failing because the Singaporean suitor needs acceptance from minority shareholders holding more than 50 percent of the stock not already owned by Kwek.
CDL has enlisted the help of Georgeson to galvanise support for its offer, said four people close to the matter.
Georgeson is one of the leading shareholder advisory firms, which work to help clients to understand the views of investors and profile shareholder bases.
It is not known when CDL first appointed Georgeson.
CDL has declared its offer final, meaning it cannot be increased under Britain’s takeover rules. It initially proposed buying out M&C’s minorities for 552.5 pence a share but was forced to raise its bid after some minority shareholders argued that it undervalued the hotelier.
M&C’s global business spans 137 hotels it either invests in, owns, franchises or operates.
The first closing date for investors to tender their shares to CDL is Jan. 23, though that deadline can be extended.
CDL, Georgeson and M&C declined to comment.
Reporting by Ben Martin; Editing by David Goodman