6 December 2017 – Expansión
The Boards of Directors of Hammerson and Intu Properties, two of Great Britain’s largest property developers, have reached an agreement regarding their merger, which will result in the creation of a group with assets worth GBP 21 billion (€23.7 billion, in euros), mostly comprising shopping centres in the United Kingdom, France and Spain. The operation will be instrumented through a public takeover bid (OPA) of Hammerson’s shares for Intu’s, valuing the share capital of that company at GBP 3.4 billion (€3.85 billion). Intu’s shareholders will receive 0.475 newly issued Hammerson shares for each current share they own.
If the deal goes ahead, it will have a significant effect on the Spanish market, as it would see a change in the owner of the country’s three largest shopping centres. Intu controls 50% of Xanadú (Madrid), Puerto Venecia (Zaragoza) and Parque Principado (Asturias). Funds from Canada and the USA are the company’s partners in those centres. Moreover, Intu has plans underway to develop other leisure and shopping complexes in Málaga, Valencia and Vigo, for a combined investment of more than €1 billion.
Hammerson, meanwhile, holds stakes in Value Retail and Via Outlets, which operate luxury brand outlet centres such as Las Rozas Village (Madrid), La Roca (Barcelona), Mallorca Fashion and Sevilla Fashion.
According to a statement from Hammerson issued today when it announced the purchase “the incorporation of Intu’s portfolio in Spain fits with our strategy of placing our focus on consumer growth markets as it involves adding three of the country’s largest shopping centres. It will also allow our commercial partners to have exposure to a new European market”.
This British company is committed to developing Intu’s projects in Spain. It says that the group resulting from the merger “will be in the best position” to undertake those investments. Following the integration, the group plans to sell some of its centres in the United Kingdom for around GBP 2 billion, which will give it “the financial flexibility it needs to invest in more profitable opportunities in Spain and Ireland, as well as in the outlet centre segment”. The combined debt of the new Hammerson group will amount to GBP 8.2 billion.
The property developer hopes to generate annual savings of GBP 25 million as a result of joining forces with Intu.
Intu’s share price on the London Stock Exchange rose by 20% (after the deal was announced), taking the company’s market capitalisation to GBP 3.2 billion, whilst Hammerson’s share price fell by 2%, taking its market capitalisation to GBP 4.15 billion.
Analysts are interpreting the operation as a defensive move by the two companies to protect themselves from the possible impact of Brexit, which is slowing down consumption in the United Kingdom and which may harm the value of their shopping centres. “The merger represents a coalition of two weak businesses, which will result in an amalgam of assets without any great possibilities for generating incremental profits”, argues Mike Prew, from Jefferies. “The interesting areas of growth are Intu’s Spanish business and Hammerson’s outlet centres”.
The merger still needs to be approved by the shareholders of the two companies and by the British competition authorities, which means that it could take a year to complete. Peel Holding, the investment company owned by John Whittaker, which is Intu’s largest shareholder, has already agreed to approve the takeover. Following the operation, it will hold a 15% stake in the resulting group.
The banks Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Lazard have advised Hammerson. Meanwhile, Intu’s managers have engaged the services of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Rothschild and UBS.
Original story: Expansión (by Roberto Casado)
Translation: Carmel Drake