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Hammerson confirms plan for huge rights issue and sale of Via Outlets stake

Via Outlets is a joint venture with Dutch pension fund APG that owns shopping centres in European cities such as Amsterdam and Prague

Hammerson -

Hammerson PLC (LON:HMSO), the owner of the Bullring and Brent Cross shopping centres, has confirmed it is mulling a huge rights issue and the sale of its stake in joint venture Via Outlets.

Reports at the weekend suggested the embattled property group would raise between £500mln-600mln from shareholders to help shore up its stretched finances.

Hammerson was struggling with high debts and a slump in visitors to its shopping centres even before the advent of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pancdemic.

Since the lockdowns in March, rental collections have tumbled with just 16% of UK rents paid at the start of the September quarter.

Rival shopping centre owner Intu went into administration a few weeks ago,  but alongside the sale of the 50% stake in Via Outlets, Hammerson hopes the additional funds will allow it to avoid the same fate and to reposition the portfolio.

Via Outlets is a joint venture with Dutch pension fund APG that owns shopping centres in European cities such as Amsterdam and Prague. APG is also one of Hammerson’s largest shareholders alongside South African group Lighthouse Capital.

Proceeds from the sales of the Via stake and the share issue might amount as much as £800mln, according to the reports.

Hammerson is also looking for a new chief executive after David Atkins announced his intention to stand down though he will stay in place until next May unless a successor is found sooner.

Ex-Great Portland and Land Securities man Robert Noel is also set to take over as chair of the company from October.

At the close on Friday, Hammerson was valued on the stock market at £492mln, having seen its value slide by 80% this year.

The reports suggested the share issue might be unveiled alongside half-year results on Thursday.

Quick facts: Hammerson

Price: 15.905 GBX

LSE:HMSO
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £266.93 m
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