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Cromwell's stake buy in IOF could spell trouble for DEXUS merger

said inan April 12 filing that it bought a 9.83% interest in , a move that couldspell further uncertainty on the listed fund's pending merger with .

Withjust a few days left until unit holders of Investa Office Fund, or IOF, conveneto vote on the business combination, Cromwell bought the stake at A$4.24 ashare from CBRE Clarion,according to a same-day report by TheAustralian Financial Review.

Cromwellsaid in the filing that it will fund the deal through a combination of debt andequity. It added that the acquisition is in line with its strategy to "capitalizewhen the right opportunities present themselves."

Localmedia like the AFR and The Australian speculate that Cromwellis preparing a rival bid for IOF.

Cromwell,with its South African backer RedefineProperties Ltd., also triedto scoop up the bigger Investa Property portfolio, which ultimately to China Investment Corp.

Sinceannouncing theirmerger plan in December 2015, DEXUS and IOF had to deal with from the owner of its managerand rumoredcounterproposals. Most recently, the sweetenedterms of the merger garnered the supportof CBRE Clarion, RREEF and Ownership Matters.

Onthe other hand, Australia's Takeovers Panel recently that Morgan Stanley, the previousowner of the Investa management platform, should be allowed to vote on themerger. The bank, the AFR said, isexpected to cast its 8.9% voting right against the scheme at the April 15meeting.

Aspreviously reported, the merger needs a 75% approval from unit holders tobecome effective.

As of April 11, US$1 wasequivalent to A$1.31.