November 11, 2010 / 12:33 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Minerva quiet on London leases, shares tumble

* No news on lettings progress at Walbrook, St. Botolph’s

* Says rental demand focused on lettings under 100,000 sq ft

(Adds details, shares, background)

LONDON, Nov 11 (Reuters) - London developer Minerva MNR.L risked further wrath from rebel shareholder Nathan Kirsh on Thursday after it said its search for tenants to fill two major speculative office developments had yet to bear fruit.

The owner of the Walbrook office complex and St. Botolph Building in the City of London financial hub said market activity had “clearly been influenced” by concerns over public spending cuts and its effect on the economic recovery.

Shares in the company were down 16.4 percent to 69 pence by 1221 GMT, as investors digested news that Minerva’s hunt for occupiers looks likely to extend into 2011.

South African entrepreneur Kirsh, whose KiFin Ltd investment vehicle controls 29.5 percent of Minerva, has criticised company management for their protracted leasing strategies amid fears Britain’s fragile economy could dent occupier demand, reducing the likely rents the buildings could generate. [ID:nLDE6850AI]

Chief Executive Salmaan Hasan said in September the company would not be rushed into letting the buildings prematurely just to pacify KiFin, which had earlier looked to unseat him and Chairman Oliver Whitehead. [ID:nLDE68J0EM]

Minerva conceded that, although the supply of new London office space remains constrained, tenant demand is most active for lettings under 100,000 square feet. (Reporting by Sinead Cruise; Editing by Andrew Macdonald) (See www.reutersrealestate.com for the global service for real estate professionals from Reuters)

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