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Intu seeks cash injection to fix balance sheet

By Huw Hughes

20 Jan 2020

Business

British shopping centre operator Intu has confirmed it is seeking a cash injection as it “continues to make progress in its strategy to fix the balance sheet”.

The business, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Lakeside in Essex, said the equity raise would come alongside its full-year results at the end of February. The cash call is thought to be worth as much as 1 billion pounds.

“The company is currently engaged in constructive discussions with both shareholders and potential new investors on the proposed equity raise,” Intu said.

In December, the company exchanged contracts to dispose of Intu Puerto Venecia, a Spanish shopping centre it part-owned. It sold for 475 million euros, with Intu collecting 238 million euros of that. The net proceeds of the transaction are now being used to repay debt and are expected to reduce the loan to value by around 1 percent. The company also said it made nearly 500 million pounds of disposals in 2019, with the negotiations for the disposal of Intu Asturias “at advanced stages.”

In November, Intu announced it had sold Sprucefield Retail Park, a 231,000 square-foot-retail park in Lisburn, Northern Ireland to NewRiver for 40 million pounds.

“We have delivered a robust operational performance for 2019 finishing with a busy Christmas trading period. Total footfall in 2019 was 0.3 percent ahead of 2018, flat in the UK which significantly outperformed the Springboard footfall monitor for shopping centres,” Matthew Roberts, Intu chief executive, said in a statement.

“Occupancy was stable at 95 percent and to date, 97 percent of rent has been collected for the first quarter of 2020 demonstrating the lower risk of our existing customer base. We are making good progress with fixing the balance sheet, our number one priority, and are confident we have the right strategy in place to enable us to prosper as we see continued polarisation between the best destinations and the rest.”

Photo credit: Intu Lakeside