Meinl European Land Ltd. shareholders today approved a plan by Gazit Globe Ltd. (GLOB) and Citigroup Inc. (C:US) to invest as much as 1 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in the company, Austria's third-largest developer.
Meinl won backing for the plan at a meeting today in Jersey, where the company is registered, it said in a statement. The company will change its name to Atrium European Real Estate Ltd. (ATRS), when the transaction is completed.
Meinl put itself up for sale last year after a botched share buyback led to a 52 percent drop in the stock. Austrian regulators have fined Meinl for misleading investors about the size and timing of the 1.8 billion-euro repurchase. The Jersey Financial Services Commission said July 14 that it will investigate whether the company broke the law.
``Our first priority will be to get our hands on the development pipeline and get them done on time and on budget,'' Chaim Katzman, chairman of Tel Aviv-based Gazit-Globe, said in an interview after the vote.
Meinl shares fell for the 11th day in 12 days' trading, closing down 16 cents, or 2.9 percent, at 5.40 euros, paring the company's market value to 1.6 billion euros ($2.5 billion). The stock has plunged 43 percent this year.
Gazit Globe and Citigroup's CPI Capital Partners Europe LP will invest 500 million euros in convertible bonds and will underwrite a 300 million-euro rights offering to Meinl Land shareholders. They may buy another 200 million euros of shares themselves.
Meinl will use some of the money it raises to make acquisitions, said Katzman. ``Maybe this is our moment in the sun,'' he said. ``We will be one of the few real estate companies with ample cash and we are going to start to look for opportunities.''
The company will shortly announce where its headquarters will be located and will seek a dual listing of the stock in that country, said Katzman. It would not be in Vienna, said Katzman, who declined to be more specific.
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