Home REIT reveals unsolicited takeover approach

Feb 16 (Reuters) - UK housing provider Home REIT (HOMEH.L) has received an unsolicited takeover approach from an investment firm, it said on Thursday, months after being rocked by a short-seller report.

Under scrutiny after the November report from Viceroy Research, the housing provider for the homeless has missed a deadline to publish its annual results and trading in its shares has been suspended since Jan. 3.

Home REIT did not give any financial details but said any offer by London-based Bluestar Group Ltd, an investment firm focused on pan-European real estate-backed businesses, is likely to be in cash. Bluestar has until March 16 to announce a firm offer or walk away.

In a separate statement, Bluestar confirmed it has made a "non-binding indicative proposal" for Home REIT regarding a possible cash offer.

The Home REIT board is considering all strategic options, including a possible sale, the company said.

Home REIT also said that a report from Alvarium Home REIT Advisors highlighted a "serious deterioration" in rent collections for the quarter to November 2022 and identified "serious challenges" in obtaining December and January rents.

Payment of rent is "highly uncertain" in the coming months, the company added.

Viceroy's scathing report in November had questioned the ability of Home REIT's tenants to pay rent.

Only 23% of rents have been collected for the quarter to November, Home REIT said.

Viceroy, best known for raising the alarm on Germany's Wirecard, said it was unable to comment on the acquisition approach because Home REIT had not disclosed the offer price and added that rent deterioration mentioned by the company was "exactly in line with Viceroy's thesis".

Home REIT continues to engage with BDO on "the enhanced audit" of its accounts for the year to Aug. 31 and is also talking to its lender, Scottish Widows, the company said.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil, Prerna Bedi and Amna Karimi in Bengaluru Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil, David Goodman and David Gregorio

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