Friday 20 April 2018

Dundrum Centre owner Hammerson in £3.4bn retail merger

Dundrum Town Centre
Dundrum Town Centre
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

UK-headquartered shopping centre giant, Hammerson, is expected to ramp up its investment in the Dundrum Town Centre and its other Irish assets after making a £3.4bn (€3.8bn)all-share offer for rival retail centre owner Intu.

The merger of Hammerson and Intu will see the creation of Britain's largest property company with the new enlarged group boasting a combined gross asset value (GAV) of £21bn.

In taking control of Intu, Hammerson will bolster its existing portfolio through the addition of major retail assets such as London's Brent Cross, Birmingham's famous Bullring and Manchester's Trafford Centre. The deal was met with a mixed response by investment analysts in view of the challenges being faced the UK retail sector in the wake of Brexit.

But Hammerson's announcement of its intention to reinvest the proceeds of a £2bn (predominantly UK) asset disposal programme in Ireland, Spain and in its premium outlets, was viewed as being positive for the future of its Irish portfolio particularly.

Investec economist Philip O'Sullivan noted it would give Hammerson enhanced flexibility for future projects such as Dundrum Phase 2.

While the south Dublin retail mecca, which Hammerson owns jointly with German insurer Allianz, has proved to be hugely successful with over 50 million visitors annually, Hammerson has stated on a number of occasions that it is considering delivering a residential-led scheme for its next phase.

The proposed development will take place on the site of the original Dundrum shopping centre.

The enlarged Hammerson group will be led by Hammerson CEO David Atkins, and chairman David Tyler.

Intu's deputy chairman John Whittaker will assume the role of senior independent director within the enlarged company. "This marks an exciting milestone in the history of Hammerson," said Mr Atkins. "Bringing together the high-quality portfolios of both companies establishes Hammerson as a larger, leading European retail Reit (Real Estate Investment Trust), enhances shareholder returns and supports opportunities for long-term growth. I hold Intu's high-quality centres in high regard and I look forward to working with a strengthened team to enhance the performance of our entire portfolio."

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