Hammerson-Intu deal hit by shareholder concerns

The £3.4 billion acquisition of Intu by Hammerson might never happen, despite the French company that could have derailed the deal walking away from making another bid for the larger of the two UK shopping centre giants. That's according to UK press reports which described the planned merger as being "on a knife edge”.


Hammerson


Hammerson had been proceeding with its acquisition plans until French peer Klépierre made two unsolicited verbal bids for it, leading Hammerson to put progress on the Intu plan on ice until the French firm’s longer-term intentions became clear.

But the assumption that with Klépierre walking away from its attempt to buy it, the path would now be smooth for Hammerson and Intu to go ahead with their own deal may have been premature.

It seems that some shareholders are unhappy about Hammerson’s handling of the takeover bid that saw an offer of 635p per share being rejected, despite its shares trading at well below that level for some time.

The company had announced back in December that it would acquire Intu to create a £21 billion UK and European shopping centres giant. But newspapers said that some investors were concerned that Hammerson seemed to have focused on ensuring that the Intu deal still went through rather than seriously considering the Klépierre alternative.

It means we could see activist shareholders agitating for the firm to pursue alternative options in future and refusing to back the Intu deal when it comes to the crucial votes required to get it through.

Dutch pension fund manager APG has written to Hammerson management saying that it has “substantial concerns” over the deal and would vote against it. The fund manager is the third largest of its shareholders with a stake of more than 7%. That wouldn’t be enough to block the deal in itself, but if others act the same way, it could mean a rethink is on the cards.

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