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Westquay shopping centre owner Hammerson to take over UK's biggest shopping centre operator

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THE CO-OWNER of Hampshire’s biggest shopping centre is due to their expand its empire in one of the biggest takeover deals this year.
Hammerson, which owns 50 per cent of Westquay shopping centre in Southampton, has agreed an all-share takeover of rival Intu in a £3.4 billion deal that will create Britain’s biggest property company with assets of £21 billion.
Intu’s stable of centres includes Lakeside in London, the Bullring in Birmingham and the Trafford Centre in Manchester while Hammerson owns, among others, Bicester Village in Oxfordshire and Brent Cross shopping centre in North London.

The deal represents a value of 253.9p per Intu share, equivalent to £3.4 billion.
Hammerson boss David Atkins said that as part of the tie-up, the new group will offload at least £2 billion worth of shopping centre assets, primarily in the UK with Hammerson switching its focus to target high-growth markets in Europe such as Spain and Ireland.
Mr Atkins described the UK retail market as “challenging” and said that there was a “polarisation” between the best and worst shopping centres. The group also planned to slash costs to the tune of £25 million a year.
Shareholders will vote on the deal next year, with Intu having already secured more than 50 per cent of investor support for the deal.
The acquisition will result in Hammerson shareholders owning 55 per cent of the combined firm and Intu investors the remainder.
The combined group will be led by Mr Atkins and Hammerson chairman David Tyler, who said: “This transaction will deliver real value for shareholders. The financial strength of the enlarged group and its strong leadership team will make it well-placed to take advantage of higher growth opportunities on a pan-European scale.”
Shares in Intu roseby more than 19 per cent in early morning trading this morning to 238p following the news while Hammerson shares were down two per cent to 523p.
Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group, said: “Intu shares were down over 25 per cent year to date before the announcement so it’s an opportunistic buy. Intu share prices losses have accelerated on signs British shoppers are tightening purse strings. The cost of living squeeze on UK consumers from higher inflation is forcing companies like Hammerson and Intu into action. Online shopping means shopping centres and high street shopping are in a long-term malaise. Shareholders will want to see assets sold down in the merged company to help fund the deal and to reflect the lower demand for brick and mortar stores.”
Source: Daily Echo