Hammerson 'in talks with' Westfield owner about Croydon project stake sale - reports
It’s talking to France-based Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, according to several media reports, as it continues to come under pressure from shareholders, unhappy about slow progress on its turnaround plan to cut costs and boost profits.
The discussions with URW are believed to be advanced regarding selling its 50% holding in the joint venture with URW to redevelop the Whitgift Centre in Croydon. It would make the French firm the sole owner of the project.
Hammerson has a target of £500 million worth of disposals by the end of this year and such a deal would bring it close to that level following a number of previous disposals.
The landlord owns Brent Cross, Birmingham’s Bullring and a stake in the owner of Bicester Village, among other key properties. It recently sold its final stake in Italie Deux in Paris and last year sold the Victoria Gate and Victoria Quarter shopping centres in Leeds.
Lighthouse is Hammerson’s largest shareholder with an almost-23% holding and has been loudly calling for it to cut its exposure to development projects and to resume paying shareholder dividends. It’s the investment vehicle of former Hammerson director Desmond de Beer and has also been trying to get new board members appointed.
But the company has received support from a number of other important shareholders, including APG — which, with a 20% holding, is its second-largest investor. Other big institutional investors have also voiced their support for Hammerson.
Lighthouse has complained that Hammerson has shifted “away from its core proposition” as a retail real estate investment trust and that despite its “world’ class malls” trading well, its share price is lowly valued and trading at a big discount to its net asset value.
It also wants Hammerson to sell its stake in Bicester operator Value Retail.
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