Charter cancels New York hedge fund meetings

LONDON Tue Aug 2, 2011 4:00am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Charter International has cancelled some meetings with New York hedge funds, people familiar with the matter said, focusing on long-term shareholders as it takes its case for independence to the United States this week.

The engineering company is under mounting pressure from large European shareholders to open its books to Melrose MYN.L, after it rejected an indicative offer of 840 pence a share, or 1.4 billion pounds.

Industrial buy-out company Melrose said last week it would consider increasing its proposal if it had access to Charter's books in order to do due diligence.

"Our meeting has been cancelled," said one New York hedge fund due to meet Charter CHTR.L as part of U.S. roadshows this week, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"They didn't want to talk to the arbitrage community. They know we'll support Melrose."

Bankers estimate that around 15 per cent or more of Charter's stock is in the hands of hedge funds.

Large European shareholders including Aviva Investors also support Melrose, putting Charter under considerable pressure as it outlines its turnaround plan under new chief executive Gareth Rhys Williams.

Aviva, which has a 5.25 percent stake in Charter, said it saw no reason to deny Melrose access to due diligence, adding that the approach to Charter represented a "compelling proposition".

According to a report in the Britain's Telegraph newspaper, Charter's second biggest investor Schroders (SDR.L) has also written to the company demanding that it open its books to Melrose.

Charter declined to comment.

(Editing by David Cowell)

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