File picture: James White

PRETORIA – Intu Properties, the listed leading owner, manager and developer of UK malls with a growing presence in Spain, is facing the prospect of a second takeover bid in less than a year.

This follows a consortium confirming late last week that it was in the preliminary stages of considering a possible cash offer for the issued share capital of Intu the members of the consortium did not already own.

Intu properties said on Friday that it noted the statement by the consortium – which comprises of UK billionaire John Whittaker-owned Peel Group, Saudi Arabian-based Olayan Group and Canadian asset manager Brookfield Property Group – in relation to a possible offer by it for Intu.

Intu said it had, however, not received an approach from the consortium, but its board had formed an independent committee comprising all directors other than Whittaker, who is also the deputy chairperson of the board and became the largest shareholder in the company in 2010 when he sold the Trafford Centre in Manchester in the UK to Capital Shopping Centres (CSC), which was subsequently renamed Intu.

CSC was created through the unbundling and separate listing of the shopping mall business of listed Liberty International and its London-focused property entity, Capital & Counties Properties. Liberty International was originally established by South African businessman Donald Gordon.

The consortium stressed that its consideration of a possible offer for Intu was at a preliminary and exploratory stage and “no approach has been made to the board of Intu. There can be no certainty that any transaction will ultimately be forthcoming, nor can there be any certainty as to the terms of any such transaction. A further announcement will be made if appropriate,” it said. Intu added that the independent committee would consider any approach from the consortium, if made, and a further announcement would be made if and when appropriate.

Peel and Olayan, and their respective concert parties, owned a total of 405.66 million shares in Intu, representing about 29.9 percent of the company’s share capital. Brookfield did not have interests in shares in Intu.

In terms of the rules of the UK Takeover Panel, the consortium was required to announce by 5pm on November 1 a firm intention to make an offer for the shares in Intu it does not already own or announce that it does not intend to make an offer.

This deadline could be extended with the consent of the panel.

The potential offer by the consortium for Intu follows Hammerson, the FTSE 100 UK retail real estate investment trust with a secondary listing on the JSE, launching a $5 billion (R73.73bn) takeover bid for the company in December last year that would have created a £21bn (R406.05bn) pan-European portfolio of high-quality retail and leisure destinations.

However, Hammerson withdrew the bid in April this year because its board no longer believed the proposed transaction was in the best interests of its shareholders, blaming the deterioration in the UK property market and concerns about the lengthy merger process.