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Hammerson's €460m deal to sell retail parks to Orion is scrapped

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Its Irish assets represent 10pc of the group's portfolio by value, of which Dundrum accounts for two-thirds of the Irish arm's value

Its Irish assets represent 10pc of the group's portfolio by value, of which Dundrum accounts for two-thirds of the Irish arm's value

Its Irish assets represent 10pc of the group's portfolio by value, of which Dundrum accounts for two-thirds of the Irish arm's value

Dundrum, Swords Pavillion and Ilac centre owner Hammerson's £400m (€459.5m) deal to sell seven UK retail parks to private equity firm Orion has been scrapped.

The announcement from Hammerson sent its share price down more than 10pc yesterday afternoon.

The company last month served a notice to Orion specifying that it is required to complete the deal by May 6.

"Following close of business on 5 May 2020, Orion notified Hammerson that it had resolved not to complete (the sale and purchase agreement) on 6 May 2020," Hammerson said.

The mall operator said that the deposit of £21m held in escrow by its solicitors would become immediately payable to Hammerson. It is understood there were four other bidders for the portfolio at the time, ranging from £310m to £345m, considerably below Orion's bid, according to Colm Lauder, analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers.

"There was a good depth of well-capitalised bidders, which does suggest that this portfolio will trade, however given other moving parts (Covid etc) and previous pricing by underbidders, this is likely to be considerably below the Orion price, notwithstanding the holding of the deposit," Mr Lauder said.

Hammerson has been trimming debt and fixing its balance sheet by divesting some of its portfolio to focus on its flagship sites, premium outlets and city quarters across Europe.

Last year Hammerson reported a pre-tax loss of £573.8m, increasing from a £173.3m loss in 2018, due to a fall in rental income.

Its Irish assets represent 10pc of the group's portfolio by value, of which Dundrum accounts for two-thirds of the Irish arm's value.

Prior to Covid-19 many bricks-and-mortal shops were facing hard times, due in part to the increase in people shopping online.

The spread of the global pandemic has forced thousands of retailers across Ireland and the UK to temporarily shut down, adding to the difficulties being faced by shop and shopping centre owners.

Last month the High Court appointed provisional liquidators to the Irish arm of Debenhams. Other casualties include Oasis and Warehouse.

Additional reporting Reuters

Irish Independent