Developer’s biggest shareholder calls for EGM to push out management team

London mixed use developer Minerva is facing calls for the immediate removal of its chairman and chief executive from its biggest shareholder, south African investor Kirsch.

Kirsch, through its subsidiary KiFin, has made a formal request to the company to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting to sack chair Oliver Whitehead and chief executive Salmaan Hasan over their refusal to disclose information which Kirsch says could affect the value of the company.

Minerva is the developer behind the Grimshaw-designed St Botolph’s head quarters building as well as the Foster & Partners-designed Wallbrook Square building, both currently being built in the city.  

Kirsch, which owns 29.5% of the firm, wants to replace the current management with an interim CEO in the form of Philip Lewis, a chartered surveyor with 30 years’ experience in the London property market, and Bradley Fried, the former chief executive officer of Investec Bank plc as chair. They would have a mandate to cut costs at the company and provide more information.

KiFin’s formal request for an EGM said that it was unhappy that the full details of a refinancing with Minerva’s banks hadn’t been made public, and that the terms of its agreement with Northacre over the successful “Lancasters” residential development on Hyde Park hadn’t been disclosed.

KiFin’s statement denied the firm was an “activist” investor, saying it was merely concerned about the direction of the company. It said: “Kirsh is increasingly concerned by Minerva’s continued refusal to provide significant information relating to financing and ongoing strategy, denying shareholders the ability to accurately assess the value and long term viability of the Company. 

“This has led us to question the suitability of the chairman and chief executive who have consistently demonstrated their unwillingness to engage openly with shareholders and provide adequate disclosure, transparency and leadership.”

The statement also said the investor was concerned about the Croydon and Ram’s Brewery mixed-use developments, and the failure to secure lettings on the Wallbrook and St Botolph’s.