Shares in shopping centre owner Intu sink after takeover collapses

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Shares in the owner of shopping centres including Lakeside and the Trafford Centre have plunged after a £2.8bn takeover bid was abandoned.

The consortium bidding for Intu Properties blamed economic uncertainty and market volatility for walking away.

It was led by the Peel Group and included Saudi Arabian firm Olayan and Canada's Brookfield Property.

Shares in Intu sank 35% to 125p - almost half the 210.4p a share the consortium had offered for the company.

David Fischel, chief executive of Intu, said a surge in Brexit-related uncertainty had scuppered the proposal.

"The escalation in the news around Brexit and all the potential ramifications has obviously ramped up a lot in the last couple of weeks and has made it a very hard climate to make a big investment decision," he said.

John Whittaker, chairman of the Peel Group, which has a 27.3% stake in Intu, said it remained "fully committed ... as a long-term strategic shareholder".

It is the second time this year Intu has been jilted. In April, Hammerson abandoned a £3.4bn bid.

Intu said it would continue investing in its shopping centres, but would be paying lower dividends to investors in the short term.

The company said it expected full-year growth in net rental income of between zero and 1% assuming there are "no further material tenant failures", which it says have hit growth by some 1.5% over the year.

image copyrightGeograph
image captionLakeside is one of Intu's centres

Mr Whittaker said there was a "key role" for physical shops despite a spate of recent closures of some of the best-known names in retailing.

Earlier this month, Mike Ashley, whose Sports Direct recently took over House of Fraser, said he would close four of the department store chain's stores in Intu shopping centres after failing to agree rent cuts for the shops.

Other troubled stores include Debenhams (another Mike Ashley investment), New Look and restaurant chains Prezzo and Jamie's Italian.

A recent report by consultants PwC found 14 shops were closing every day as UK high streets face their toughest trading climate in five years.

Data from retail analysts Springboard indicated that shoppers were continuing to favour buying online rather than heading out to the shops. Its data for last week's Black Friday event showed the biggest losers were shopping centres.

Footfall at shops was down 7% from a year ago, high streets suffered a 6.4% decline and shopping centres' visitor numbers fell 9.1%.

Intu's UK shopping centres

  • Braehead, Glasgow
  • Broadmarsh, Nottingham
  • Chapelfield, Norwich
  • Intu Derby
  • Eldon Square, Newcastle
  • Lakeside Essex
  • Merry Hill, West Midlands
  • Metrocentre, Gateshead
  • Intu Milton Keynes
  • Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Trafford Centre, Manchester
  • Intu Uxbridge
  • Victoria Centre, Nottingham
  • Intu Watford
  • Manchester Arndale (with M&G Real Estate)
  • St David's, Cardiff (with Land Securities)
  • The Mall, Cribbs Causeway (with M&G Real Estate and JT Baylis)

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