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Analysts question value of Macquarie consortium's bid for Charter Hall Office

A RESOLUTION to the proposed $1.9 billion conditional offer from the Macquarie-led consortium for the Charter Hall Office real estate investment trust is said to be imminent.

A RESOLUTION to the proposed $1.9 billion conditional offer from the Macquarie-led consortium for the Charter Hall Office real estate investment trust is said to be imminent.

Investors have been offered $2.39 a unit, rising to $3.52 after adding an additional $1.13 capital return from the proceeds of the US asset sales to Beacon Capital Partners in August for $US1.7 billion.

Under the deal, announced on September 6, the manager of the trust, Charter Hall Group, will retain its role as well as its direct 13.3 per cent stake. The remainder of the register will be held by superannuation and sovereign funds.

According to JP Morgan's property analysts, while the independent directors' committee is still in the process of exploring and fully understanding the offer, it needs clarification.

"We are surprised that no further announcement has been made ... The $2.39 offer for the Australian portfolio, at a 8.8 per cent discount to the net tangible asset [NTA] of $2.62 is not fair and reasonable when considering that office values in our belief are still close to cycle lows," the brokers at JP Morgan said.

Their analysis factored in the dollar's drop below parity with the US dollar and concluded the US asset sale capital payment would be worth $1.17 - 8.3 per cent more than the original management estimate of $1.08, which was based on an exchange rate of $US1.08.

"Based on a $1.17/US sale payment, the Australian portfolio is trading at $2.09 ($3.26 less $1.17), representing a large 20 per cent discount to NTA," JP Morgan's analysts said.

"We believe the timing of the proceeds for the US and domestic portfolio is not of great concern as the income from the properties right up until the settlement date would in effect be paid to unit holders on top of the agreed sale amounts."

JP Morgan brokers said Charter Hall Office management had told them the sale to Beacon Capital Partners was on track.

"They have introduced Maguire Properties to Beacon Capital and the two parties are in discussion," they said.

Beacon was also in talks with lenders.

"Management has stated the independent directors' committee is still in the process of exploring and fully understanding the $2.39 per unit offer," JP Morgan said.

This would include the offer price reflecting the consortium's views on asset pricing, estimated sell side costs, anticipated capex commitments and expected tax liabilities.

"It looks to us like the consortium is asking Charter Hall Office unit holders to fund the cost of the offer," brokers said.


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