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Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
BT pensioners buy Centre Point
Centre Point Tower
Centre Point is one of London's landmarks
Property group MEPC, owner of London's Centre Point building, has agreed to a takeover offer from a firm half owned by British Telecom's pension fund.

MEPC, the UK's fourth largest property firm, has accepted a 3.49bn offer from Leconport Estates, a joint venture between the BT fund and GE Capital Real Estate, part of General Electric.

The 550p per share offer is 25% higher than Wednesday's closing price of 440p, and values the group at 3.49bn including debt.

The target firm's large portfolio of assets outside of London includes Birchwood Business Park in Warrington, the Castle Court shopping centre in Belfast and the Yorkshire Outlet Centre in Doncaster.

Chief executive Jamie Dundas said MEPC already knew GE Capital through a 200m joint venture.

The Princess of Wales

"There was a very small universe of parties that could have the resources and the skills that could possibly be interested in doing such a deal and GE Capital clearly met that criteria," he said.

MEPC decided last year to review its structure and last month said it would focus on its business space activities, saying it had raised 190m through a series of retail property disposals.

The property sector has fared worse than other "old economy" stocks in recent months and MEPC shares have fallen to lows of around 300p in February this year, down from about 545p last July.

Alistair Ross Goobey of Hermes, which is involved on behalf of BT's pension fund, said it was an attractive portfolio of properties.

The 26-storey Centre Point tower stands head and shoulders above all surrounding buildings at the heart of London's famous Oxford Street shopping centre.

The creation of developer Harry Hyams, it has had a colourful and controversial history, from remaining empty for 15 years, to gaining glamour from visits by the late Princess of Wales.

It is currently home to the Confederation of British Industry, among others.

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