Tag Archives: City

London for Sale ?

Source: Evening Standard

City of London
Canary Wharf, London

Qatar wins battle for Canary Wharf as owner Songbird surrenders to £2.6bn bid

Canarf Wharf’s majority owner Songbird Estates has reluctantly surrendered to a £2.6 billion bid from Qatar and Canada after international attempts to find another buyer foundered.

Songbird, itself a 69% shareholder in Canary Wharf Group, believes the 350p-a-share final offer from the Qatar Investment Authority, headed by Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud al-Thani, and Canadian developer Brookfield undervalues the business and put a 381p price-tag on itself early in the bid saga.

The Qataris already own 28.6% of Songbird, but the battle was decided away from the public eye as the firm admitted that three of its major private investors were likely to accept the 350p-a-share bid.

 The joint venture — advised by investment banking rainmaker Ken Costa — will now oversee a huge development pipeline including Wood Wharf in Docklands and the South Bank’s Shell Centre.

The retreat comes less than 24 hours before the offer lapses at 1pm tomorrow and after the Songbird board unsuccessfully cast around the world for a rival bidder.

“No such offer has been forthcoming to date and the board believes that none will now be forthcoming before the first closing date,” the company said.

The US investor, Simon Glick, holds 25.1%, the China Investment Corporation 15.8% and Morgan Stanley 8.5%.

With all these backing the offer — as well as some shareholders in Songbird’s relatively small free float — the bidders can now command more than 85% of the company’s shares.

The AIM-listed firm warned minority shareholders could become trapped in the company if the joint venture fails to reach the 90% point at which it can automatically buy up remaining shares, but decides to go ahead with a delisting anyway.

Songbird’s new owners have committed to retain existing key management.

Sir George Iacobescu, chairman and chief executive of CWG and architect of the modern Canary Wharf, said: “In the future Songbird and Canary Wharf will become one and the same company, which will be beneficial for the company.

“As the person running Canary Wharf, two of the biggest companies in the world have decided to buy into the future of the company, that’s a major endorsement of the company and the management.”

The complex ownership structure of Songbird and CWG is the relic of a 2004 takeover battle as well as a 2009 bailout for Songbird. Shares rose 8% or 27.25p to 348.75p.

London Is Now The World’s Crowdfunding Capital

Skyline Canary WharfSource: Forbes London has overtaken New York City and San Francisco to become the world capital of crowdfunding. At an event held by The Crowdfunding Centre in London today, an interactive map showing crowdfunding’s spread and distribution was unveiled. London is the top city, with local businesses and startups creating more campaigns during July than any other city. Just over 250,000 crowdfunding campaigns have been launched internationally this year so far. The UK’s capital, London, is leading the charge in terms of cities, with 12 new crowdfunding projects launching on average each day. The average amount raised is $17,834, with an average fully-funded success rate of 32%. “When we looked at the database, I was stunned to see that London sees the most crowdfunding activity on most days,” explains Barry James, founder and CEO of The Crowdfunding Centre. James attributes London’s lead to the city’s startup community embracing crowdfunding as an alternative way to raise cash. “It’s clear from the figures that the hyper-connectivity of the startup community in London is helping. There is also the fact that compared to the US, where centers of excellence are scattered around the East and West coasts, London has become a center of many specialisms.” In particular, the data shows that London is a leader for crowdfunding projects in the business, technology, publishing and gaming industries – all fast-growth areas. Discussing the findings, Dr Richard Swart, a crowdfunding and alternative finance expert from University of California, Berkeley, said the research findings come as no surprise: “London and the UK are continuing the growth documented in our research. It is becoming clear the UK is leading the market in many respects.” The UK government is not ignoring this. Just last week, George Osborne, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the UK is ready to challenge US dominance in crowdfunding: “We stand at the dawn of a new era of innovative finance. Setting the objective of the UK leading the world, London has become the world capital of crowdfunding. The technologies being developed today will revolutionize the way we bank, the way we invest, the way companies raise money. It will lead to new products, new services, new lenders.” Britain is embracing crowdfunding Crowdfunding has grown extremely quickly in the UK over the last few years, growing by more than 600% between 2012 and 2013, from just under £4m raised in 2012 to more than £28m in 2013. The industry is now on track to reach £1bn by the end of 2014. This fast growth has caught the government’s attention, with the Financial Conduct Authority – the UK financial service regulator – releasing new rules to regulate both crowdfunding and peer-to-peer funding platforms. Britain is home to around 80 different crowdfunding platforms, but the two biggest players are – by far – Crowdcube and Seedrs. “[The UK] is the best jurisdiction for crowdfunding in the world,” says Jeff Lynn, the American-born founder of Seedrs. “The US and the rest of Europe are far behind the UK, which has a sensible regime that protects investors while still creating a commercial model in which to operate. Hats off to the government for their enthusiasm.” Before the FCA’s rules, some crowdfunding activity had been unregulated, some regulated, and some of it exempt from regulation. These new rules were widely welcomed by crowdfunding platforms, making the model more accessible to everyday investors.