Group behind Union Square development says '˜non' to French bid

A European shopping centre owner has threatened to complicate Hammerson's multi-billion-pound tie-up with Intu by making an approach for the group behind Aberdeen's Union Square development.

Hammerson's portfolio includes Aberdeen's Union Square

Following reports yesterday, Klepierre, a French property giant with shopping centres in 57 cities across the globe, revealed that it had made a proposed 615p-per-share bid on 8 March, but said the move was snubbed by Hammerson in less than 24 hours.

The UK firm, which is also the joint owner of Glasgow’s Silverburn centre, branded the takeover approach from its European rival as “wholly inadequate” and stood by plans to seal a £3.4 billion agreement with Intu.

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Shares in Hammerson leapt even as Klepierre stressed there was no guarantee that a firm offer would be made. Its £4.88bn cash-and-share approach represents a 41 per cent premium on Hammerson’s Friday share price of 437.1p.

David Tyler, chairman of Hammerson, described the Klepierre proposal as “entirely opportunistic”. He said: “It is a calculated attempt to exploit the disconnect between our recent share price performance and the inherent value of our unique and irreplaceable portfolio which is delivering record results.

“Klepierre is asking our shareholders to accept a price for their Hammerson shares which is not only at a significant discount to their book ­value but includes a large element of paper in a company which in our view has a lower quality portfolio and lower growth prospects. The ­Hammerson board sees absolutely no merit in Klepierre’s proposal and has unanimously rejected it. The board strongly advises shareholders to take no action.”

Hammerson agreed an all-share takeover of Intu in December, in a move that will create Britain’s biggest property company. The deal will see Hammerson shareholders owning 55 per cent of the combined business with Intu investors holding the remainder. Among Intu’s assets are Braehead near Glasgow and the Trafford Centre in ­Manchester. Hammerson’s Scottish assets also include Central Retail Park in Falkirk and Fife Central Retail Park.

The potential takeover activity comes at a tough time for Hammerson, which has been relegated to the FTSE 250 Index after seeing its share price slide in response to ­market concerns over the woes on the high street.

Last month, the group reported a 6.9 per cent rise in net rental income for the year to 31 December to £370.4 ­million, up from £346.5m a year earlier. Adjusted earnings per share lifted to 31.1p from 29.2p previously – an increase of 6.5 per cent. A final dividend per share of 14.8p was declared, up from 13.9p the year before.

Chief executive David Atkins said at the time: “The highlight of 2017 was the announcement of our proposed acquisition of Intu. In line with our strategy, the transaction will further enhance our portfolio and operating platform, providing further opportunity to expand in higher growth markets. We are on track with our acquisition timetable and integration planning.

“Our disciplined approach to capital recycling ensures we continually lift the overall quality of our portfolio.”