Saturday, July 22, 2006

Westland reaches deal for $250M

By Associated PressJuly 21, 2006 Posted 1:10 p.m. The Westland Development Corp. board of directors has accepted a California development company's offer to buy 55,000 acres of Westland property on the West Side for more than $250 million. The deal, which is subject to approval by Westland shareholders, involves land given to Spanish settlers in the early 1700s as the Atrisco Land Grant. The land grant was incorporated in 1967 into Westland Development, which manages the land holdings for thousands of heirs. Westland announced the agreement with SunCal Companies of Irvine, Calif., on Thursday. Steve Greyshock, a spokesman for SunCal, said the company is interested in developing housing on the Westland property. A special shareholders' meeting to vote on the sale is expected before September. Westland has 794,927 shares, each of which counts toward a vote. Two-thirds of the votes must favor a sale for it to go through. James Aranda of Concerned Heirs of Atrisco said his group is opposed to any sale of Westland. The group has about 200 members, but it's not clear how many shares it controls. "People are willing to sell out their heritage for, what, $10,000? What is that? It's nothing," Aranda said. Westland attorney Robert Simon said the agreement with SunCal gives Westland the right to talk with other people interested in making legitimate offers for the land. The agreement also establishes a cultural heritage fund paid out as $1 million a year for the next 100 years and the creation of Atrisco Oil & Gas LLC, a company that will handle oil and gas exploration on the Westland property. In the past year, three companies had bid on Westland. Westland originally had announced plans in August to sell the land to ANM Holdings Inc. for about $200 a share. Sedora Holdings of Nevada pushed the per-price share to $305, up from $280 offered by SunCal. SunCal upped the price to $315 a share June 7, and Sedora failed to counter the offer by the July 17 deadline, according to a Westland news release.
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