Hammerson details survival funding strategy

Hammerson plans to raise £552 million, while offloading £274 million worth of assets to help offset “the extraordinary disruption caused by COVID-19”.

The shopping centre owner is proposing a rights issue, alongside the sale of the company’s 50 per cent stake in VIA outlets, to bring in a combined £825 million.

Earlier this week, the company revealed it was in talks with Dutch pension fund APG to sell its share of the portfolio of European shopping destinations.

The move follows net retail income falling by 27 per cent like-for-like to £87.3 million, because of Coronavirus store closures, reduced rental collections and retailer administrations.

Hammerson also plans to introduce more flexible leasing models and renegotiate rent prices with stores in its centres, responding to the likes of Arcadia Group asking for rent holidays during the pandemic.

“Today we have announced a series of transactions to recapitalise the business and reduce leverage by a quarter,” stated David Atkins, Hammerson's chief executive.

“Looking forward, we will continue to dispose of assets and recycle capital from across the portfolio as we create a business focused on flagship destinations and mixed-use City Quarters over the medium term.

“The extraordinary disruption caused by Covid-19 on the retail property sector, the economy and society as a whole is reflected in these half year results," he continued, adding: “The pandemic has exacerbated structural shifts in retail, exerting further pressure on both property owners and brands, and provided further evidence that the UK’s historic leasing model has served its time - it is outdated, inflexible and needs to change."

Atkins concluded that the new UK leasing approach is simpler, reflecting an omnichannel retail environment which rewards positive performance on both sides.

“It will deliver a sustainable, growing income stream and we are in initial discussions with retailers and anticipate introducing the first of the new leases later this year.”

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