Shares in Intu rose significantly on Friday after confirmation that a consortium of investors is planning a multibillion-pound takeover of the shopping centre owner.
Peel Group, owned by John Whittaker, is leading a group comprising Saudi Arabia’s Olayan and Canadian property investor Brookfield in a bid to take control of the business.
Whittaker is deputy chairman of Intu and Peel Group holds around 26% of intu, while Olayan holds about 3.5%.
Shares in Intu closed up 27% at 189p on Friday, giving the business a value of about £2bn.
Retail analyst Nick Bubb said: “At this level, despite the near £5bn of debt and the pressure on rental values, you’d think that buying Intu was a pretty cheap way into its two flagship assets, the Trafford Centre in Manchester (which is valued at £2.2bn gross) and Lakeside (which is valued at £1.3bn gross).”
The company owns or part-owns 17 shopping centres in the UK and three in Spain.
intu owns Nottingham’s Broadmarsh and Victoria Centre shopping centres.
The consortium has until 1 November to make a firm offer for Intu.
Financial pressure on Intu is expected to increase as tenants including New Look, Toys R Us and Prezzo restructure or enter administration.
Intu posted a £503.4 million loss against what it described as a “challenging operating environment” in the first half of 2018.