UK property group Hammerson is fending off a takeover approach from French mall operator Klépierre.
Klépierre said it approached Hammerson about a possible £4.9 billion offer, which would thwart Hammerson’s attempt to merge with rival Intu and create Britain’s biggest property firm.
Hammerson swiftly rejected Klépierre’s approach as “entirely opportunistic” and without merit, even though the 615p per share offer was around 40% over Hammerson’s value last week.
Hammerson’s shares jumped 25% as traders anticipated a bidding battle for the company, which owns 37 shopping centres and retail parks including Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre.
Intu owns the Trafford centre in Manchester.
According to the Guardian, a source close to Klépierre said it would prefer a constructive dialogue, but was not ruling anything out.
David Tyler, Hammerson’s chairman, said the bid was “a calculated attempt to exploit the disconnect between our recent share price performance and the inherent value of our unique and irreplaceable portfolio which is delivering record results”.
“Klépierre is asking our shareholders to accept a price for their Hammerson shares which is not only at a significant discount to their book value but includes a large element of paper in a company which in our view has a lower quality portfolio and lower growth prospects,” said Tyler.
He said the Hammerson board “sees absolutely no merit in Klépierre’s proposal and has unanimously rejected it”.
Klépierre is one of Europe’s biggest owner of shopping centres and has a market value of €10.5 billion (£9.2 billion). It owns more than 100 shopping centres in 16 countries serving close to 150 million customers, but does not have a presence in Britain.
Hammerson’s portfolio includes a large shopping centre in Marseille, Les Terrasses du Port.