Hammerson to buy smaller rival Intu Properties for around 3.4 billion pounds

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Intu-owned Sprucefield Park and the Bullring in Birmingham, controlled by Hammerson, will come under one roof, forming a £21bn giant and the UK's biggest property company. It is anticipated that at least £2bn of this would be sold as part of a rationalisation. Intu shareholders will receive 0.475 new Hammerson share for each Intu share, the companies said.

Mr Atkins, a Hammerson staffer since 1998 and chief executive since October 2009, has at last found what he was looking for: another load of shopping centres.

Intu also operates the Trafford Centre in Manchester while Hammerson owns Bicester Village and Brent Cross shopping centre.

Instead, Hammerson will target high growth markets in Europe such as Spain and Ireland.

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Hammerson said it had already received irrevocable undertakings from Intu shareholders representing 50.6 per cent of shares.

Hammerson shareholders will own 55% of the combined firm and Intu shareholders will retain 45%.

John Strachan, Intu chairman, said: "A combination of Intu and Hammerson will create a more resilient, diversified and stronger group that we believe will benefit all our stakeholders".

The new company will be led by David Atkins, chief executive, and Timon Drakesmith, chief financial officer.

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"When merged with Hammerson's top-quality assets in the United Kingdom, in France and in Ireland, it presents a highly attractive proposition for retailers and shoppers". Queensland Investment Corporation retained the other half until intu agreed to acquire the remaining 50 per cent a year ago in a £410m deal.

Mr Atkins described the United Kingdom retail market as "challenging" and said that there is a "polarisation" between the best and worst shopping centres.

"The acquisition creates a leading pan-European platform of desirable retail and leisure destinations which are better positioned to serve the needs of our retailers, excite our customers and support our partners and communities".

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