Capital Shopping Centres

CAPITAL Shopping Centres (CSC) shareholders are currently in a win-win situation. While Simon Group’s bid interest seems to have taken it completely by surprise, the shares’s near 13 per cent surge to 381p indicates the market is taking it seriously.

Simon, which already owns 5.6 per cent of CSC, is a big player in the US, with the cash to match. It is believed to be looking overseas because competition concerns over its size is preventing it making further large acquisitions in its home market. It’s not clear how much Simon is willing to offer, saying a deal will be at “an unspecified premium” to net asset value, but its $30bn market cap means CSC’s £2.4bn market cap is relatively small fry for it to swallow.

CSC’s planned £1.6bn acquisition of the Trafford Centre is what propelled Simon into action. If the deal goes through Peel Group would gain a 19.9 per cent stake in CSC making a full acquisition near impossible. Simon has until 20 December – the date of the vote on the Trafford deal – to make a formal offer. But either way CSC shareholders win. Either Simon will come up trumps with a juicy takeover premium, or the Trafford centre deal will go through – which in the long term should boost earnings.