January 11, 2014 / 1:25 PM / in 5 years

Activist investors to tell Morrisons to shake-up property portfolio -report

LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - British grocer WM Morrison , under pressure since posting worse-than-expected Christmas sales, is set to face calls from a U.S. activist investor to shake-up its property portfolio, reported the Financial Times.

Hedge fund Elliot Associates and other activist investors have built up a stake in the supermarket chain and are pushing for it to sell off some of its freehold properties, the newspaper said on Saturday, citing people familiar with the situation.

A spokesman for Morrisons declined to comment on the story.

Morrisons, Britain’s fourth largest grocer which lagged rivals over the Christmas trading period with a 5.6 percent slump in underlying sales, said in September it had launched a review of its property portfolio.

It said then that it planned to continue to hold the majority of its core estate on a freehold basis but would manage its 9 billion pound ($15 billion) property portfolio on more active basis.

The activist investors are pushing for Morrisons to go further and sell freehold properties, said the newspaper.

Elliot Associate’s holding in Morrisons is thought to be less than 1 percent.

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