GLOBAL - Unitech Corporate Parks (UCP) - the London-listed property company 4% owned by AUM $453bn (€333bn) US multisector pension scheme TIAA-CREF - has rejected demands it disclose details of several agreements, including an unsecured loan to a joint-venture partner.
Sanjay Pandit, a partner with US private equity firm Peak XV Capital, who is leading the revolt by shareholders collectively with 12% equity in the firm, criticised the company's failure to disclose details of investment management, project management, joint development and shareholder agreement documents relating to ongoing projects.
Pointing out that, since inception, UCP had reported by far the largest percentage decline in NAV of any listed company investing exclusively in Indian real estate, Pandit and other shareholders questioned an earlier loan of more than £58m (€42.5m) to minority joint-venture partner Unitech.
The company had declined to disclose the interest rate on the loan to shareholders.
In a communication to shareholders, Pandit said: "Lending money to distressed companies was never part of the mandate of UCP. UCP was lucky the loan was repaid."
Pandit rejected the label "activist", describing himself as a "motivated long-term shareholder".
The company claimed Pandit had urged managers in letters this year to sell projects as they stood.
In a statement to shareholders, chairman Aubrey Adams said the firm would instead focus on "completing and letting developments rather than selling immature projects at distressed prices".
He added: "It would not be appropriate to sell the company's projects at that time, and [it expected] greater value could be achieved by focusing on completing the building-out of the projects, securing a strong tenant base and commencing a sale process when the company had more mature income-producing projects."
However, Pandit this week said neither he nor other disgruntled shareholders were "inclined to pursue an immediate sale of all properties", but that the group remained open to any combination of development, leasing, sales or auctions.
A second point of contention has been the firm's rejection of Pandit's attempt in July to join the board. The company has implied that the other grievances were predicated on a personal grudge that he had not been appointed.
In today's statement, it said: "It should be noted that the board interviewed Mr Pandit and several other candidates earlier this year as part of the selection process for a new director appointment. The board is confident it made the right choice."
In return, Pandit has urged shareholders not to reappoint director Mohammad Khan because of an apparent conflict of interest and his failure to hold shares in the company.