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Investors rubber stamp Blackstone takeover of Valad

IT TOOK investors just over 30 minutes yesterday to hand control of the now-defunct Valad Property Group to the US giant Blackstone.

IT TOOK investors just over 30 minutes yesterday to hand control of the now-defunct Valad Property Group to the US giant Blackstone.

At the meeting, attended by more investment bankers and advisors than Valad unitholders, 95 per cent of the register voted "yes" to the scheme of arrangement.

Helping to push the deal over the line was a report by Valad's independent expert, KPMG, which concluded that while the scheme "was not fair" it was reasonable and therefore in the best interests of Valad securityholders in the absence of a superior offer.

Valad's chairman, Trevor Gerber, told the meeting the Blackstone deal had the unanimous backing of the board and senior management. "One can dwell on the past but clearly the future is all that is relevant," he said.

"The company [directors and staff] has laboured as much as we can to get the best possible outcome for unitholders." Blackstone, which is also in the final throes of buying out Centro's US shopping malls, will now take the scheme to the NSW Supreme Court for final approval. Once that has been received, Valad will cease trading on August 12.

Before Blackstone's offer, Valad - which was previously run by Peter Hurley, who left earlier this year after trying to acquire the European business - had looked at a number of options to keep the company afloat.

After Mr Hurley left, former UBS banker Clem Salwin took over as acting chief executive and, with the board's approval, concluded the sale to Blackstone was the best way to maximise shareholder value.

Valad was founded by Stephen Day and Barry Wynne in 1995 and shortly afterwards Mr Hurley joined as the chief executive.

The company was floated in 2002 by Macquarie Bank at $1 per security and reached its peak in 2007 when it paid $2 billion for Kevin McCabe's British-based property funds management company, Scarborough.

During its rise, along with the rest of the REIT sector which was buying properties at the top of the market using long-term debt instruments, Valad's shares hit a high of $42.92 (before last year's 20-1 share consolidation) and then plummeted to a low of $1.78, (8? before the consolidation).

In April, Blackstone offered investors $1.80 post the consolidation.

The deal was pre-empted by Blackstone buying out $165 million of Valad's convertible notes from Kimco Realty.


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