John Whittaker, Executive
Chairman of The Peel Group, is liquidating his stakes in Peel Ports and Liverpool Airport, The Times newspaper claims.
The newspaper says that
Whittaker is taking this action as his “finances have been stretched” by the
“plummeting value” of shopping centre owner Intu Properties due to the current
“retail bloodbath”. Peel Group owns 27.3% of Intu and its share price has
declined by around 70% in three years.
Whittaker, ranked 77th in the latest Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune estimated at £1.95bn, maintains a low profile but is considered to be one of the most successful and influential property moguls of recent decades. He is credited with the takeover of the Manchester Ship Canal Company in the 1980s and subsequent development of the Trafford Centre retail mall and Media City in Salford, as well as other large scale developments projects principally in the north west.
It seems unlikely that Whittaker would really be taking such action due to ‘stretched finances’ as the article suggests. However, it will lead many to wonder what it says about the future of the wider retail property sector in the UK.