There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Liberty International (LII, 984p) recently, with two ‘stakebuilders’ active (see Times comment below)

So it is interesting to see an announcement on Friday about a PDMR (senior management) individual exercising options and selling all the shares. ‘Normal’ behaviour across most situations where options are exercised, is to sell sufficient to pay all associated taxes (so around 40% of the exercised shares).

Liberty announced that (PDMR) Harold Newton had exercised 22638 shares, and sold the same number, leaving his holding unchanged at 93010 shares. One implication of this might be that Newton didn’t think it imperative to hold on to the 13,000 shares he didn’t need to sell for tax reasons.

August 23, 2008

‘Bid prospect puts new life into Liberty International

Market report

Bid speculation became the dominant theme in a rising market yesterday with much attention centred on Liberty International, the group behind shopping centres including Lakeside and Covent Garden.

Liberty rose 70p to 945p after news that Simon Property Group, one of the largest public real estate operators in America, had raised its stake in the company to 3.45 per cent.

Simon has been gradually and quietly building its stake in the British retail-focused real estate investment trust (Reit) for the past few months, taking advantage of its weak share price, dragged down by plummeting property valuations. This month Liberty reported a 7.4 per cent fall in the value of its portfolio and gave warning that the property market was unlikely to pick up in the near future.

It is understood that the two groups have a close relationship, but it is thought unlikely that Simon’s stake-building will lead to a bid. The 8 per cent rise in Liberty’s share price also reflected a degree of short squeezing as those who had been bearish on the company covered their positions.’