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LONDON-Chelsfield Chairman Elliot Bernerd, tabled a bid late on Friday that values the company at £860 million ($1.4 billion) or 305p a share.

But the proposed management offer has met with some scepticism from the independent directors of Chelsfield. A statement from them said: “This proposal may not fully reflect the long-term value of Chelsfield but recognise that it is at a level above the diluted triple net asset value (adjusted for the revaluation of land) of 299p per share at 30 June 2003.” It added: “The independent directors intend to pursue discussions with the consortium, other Chelsfield shareholders unconnected with the consortium and certain other potentially interested parties.”

This scepticism is reiterated by some analysts who believe Chelsfield is worth as much as 443p per share. Some institutional shareholders, already irritated at how long it has taken Bernerd to file a formal bid, are also thought to want a minimum bid of around 360p. They are also concerned that the company has not done enough to court other bidders.

But set against this is a cash offer and Bernerd told the company his consortium will be in a position to make a fully funded bid by mid-November. Bernerd owns a 12% stake and has backing from Israeli Beny Steinmetz with 7.8%, and Lubna Olayan with 9%. Nina Wang is understood not to be part of the bid but will sell her stake to the bid vehicle.Shareholders are said to be concerned that not enough is being done to court other bidders and fear that Bernerd’s bid will be only 300p to 310p.

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