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Intu chops forecast as CVA impact worse than expected

Letting activity was slower than expected in the nine months to 30 September, with new rent slumping to £19mln from £32mln during the same period last year

Intu Properties PLC -
Intu owns and operates shopping centres, which have been hit by high street shops going bust

Retail landlord Intu Properties PLC (LON:INTU) said it expects a 9% drop in like-for-like rents this year as insolvencies on the high street continue to hit earnings.

More than half the reduction in the forecast comes from the impact of company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), the controversial measure employed by retailers such as Intu customers Arcadia and Monsoon, allowing troubled companies to redraw contracts in a bid to stay afloat.

READ: Intu turns to former Crest Nicholson man to fill CFO role

The rest of the chop to forecasts was down to “political and economic uncertainty”, which is causing customers to delay new letting, Intu said.

Letting activity was slower than expected in the nine months to 30 September, with new rents slumping to £19mln from £32mln during the same period last year.

Nevertheless, footfall in Intu’s centres was up 0.9% year on year and major new contracts were signed such as Harrods’ first shopping centre store at Intu Lakeside and Zara's new flagship store in Cardiff.

Elsewhere, Intu ramped up its effort to fix the balance sheet, with net external debt reduced by £210mln in the three months to November as a result of the part sale of its Derby shopping centre and £33mln from sundry asset disposals.

Talks are also ongoing to sell two Spanish assets and a potential equity raise is being mulled.

Broker Liberum said that some confidence can be taken from today’s guidance as "the majority of the rent has been collected for the year".

Analysts at the brokerage firm reiterated the 'Sell' rating, saying the investment case for Intu continues to be "clouded by extreme uncertainty" since the business is relying on selling £2bn in assets amid "the most difficult backdrop for retail transactions on record".

Shares plummeted 13.72% to 34.72 in early trading on Wednesday.

--Adds broker comment

Quick facts: Intu Properties PLC

Price: 34.46 GBX

LSE:INTU
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £466.95 m
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