Hammerson and Intu strike £3.4bn deal

The intu Merry Hill shopping centre is to become part of an enlarged £21bn group

That values Intu at £3.4bn, a premium of around 28pc based on yesterday's closing prices.

The cost of living squeeze caused by inflation outpacing wage growth has forced companies such as Hammerson and Intu into action, according to Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.

The new company will be led by David Atkins, chief executive, and Timon Drakesmith, chief financial officer.

Although the group will now be called Hammerson plc, Intu will still be keeping their brand.

Hammerson will continue to use the "intu" consumer brand within its shopping centre portfolio.

Hammerson, a FTSE 100 company, has received backing from investors who hold 50.6% of Intu shares - including from Peel, the property firm founded by John Whittaker, now deputy chairman of Intu.

Liberum said since the combined group will own 13 of the top 20 ranked shopping centres, it may struggle to gain approval by the Competition and Markets Authority.

"Intu offers high-quality retail and leisure destinations in the United Kingdom and Spain, which when merged with Hammerson's own top-quality assets in the United Kingdom, in France and in Ireland, present a highly attractive proposition for retailers and shoppers in Europe's leading cities".

Shares in Hammerson dropped 3.5 per cent this morning, while Intu's stock jumped more than 18 per cent.

"We also believe Hammerson has a good track record in delivering operational and financial savings to increase earnings efficiency and we see lots of potential in Intu".

The deal would result in Hammerson shareholders owning about 55% of the enlarged company, with the remaining 45% owned by Intu shareholders.

Hammerson is to sell £2bn worth of its property portfolio to support "higher return opportunities", and on Wednesday said that it was selling its stake in Saint Sébastien shopping centre in Nancy, France to AEW Ciloger.

"The acquisition creates a leading pan-European platform of desirable retail and leisure destinations which are better positioned to serve the needs of our retailers, excite our customers and support our partners and communities", Atkins said.

In August Intu completed a £488 million refinancing deal to enable its full ownership of Merry Hill, where is is planning a new cinema and restaurants.

It was an embarrassing development for one of Britain's biggest shopping centre owners and added to accusations that the business had been plagued by poor management and had underinvestment in its stores. Queensland Investment Corporation retained the other half until intu agreed to acquire the remaining 50 per cent past year in a £410m deal.

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