St. Modwen accepts Blackstone’s raised $1.75 billion take-private offer

FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

(Corrects Aviva’s stake in paragraph six to 7.27% from 17.14%)

By Pushkala Aripaka

(Reuters) -Housebuilder and logistics firm St. Modwen Properties said on Thursday it has agreed to a sweetened 1.25 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) offer from U.S. private equity firm Blackstone to take it private.

Demand for warehousing has soared as the pandemic accelerated a shift to online shopping and ordering, boosting UK-listed St. Modwen, which counts Amazon UK, DHL and Ocado as clients.

The company has also benefited from a strong recovery in the housing market after an initial hit from the health crisis.

The recommended 560 pence per share cash offer for St. Modwen was final, Blackstone said, but it could make a new proposal if another suitor for the real estate developer emerged.

Shares of St. Modwen, which builds homes, owns and manages several industrial and logistics assets in Britain, were hardly changed at 553 pence in morning trading.

St. Modwen’s top shareholder Aviva, which has a 7.27% stake, Refinitiv Eikon data shows, said it would back the offer at a shareholder meeting set for July 21, as did Aberdeen Standard Investments, which holds roughly 2.2%.

The latest offer is at a premium of about 25% to the stock’s closing price the day before the first offer was made on May 7. Shares have climbed about 23% in the same period.

St. Modwen’s directors said the latest offer was in the “best interests” of shareholders.

Blackstone last month put forward a 542 pence per share offer for St. Modwen. The stock rose 20% but failed to rise to the offer price.

Private equity interest in British companies has increased in recent months in an investment climate marked by soaring stock markets and very low interest rates.

Blackstone itself was involved in a takeover battle for Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd, and bought out private jet services firm Signature Aviation as part of a consortium.

($1 = 0.7162 pounds)

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Barbara Lewis)