Thursday 29 November 2018 7:29 am

John Whittaker-led consortium abandons £2.9bn offer for Intu, sending shares crashing

Intu’s share price nosedived by 36 per cent this morning after a consortium ditched plans to pay £2.9bn for the shopping centre empire, blaming market uncertainty.

Intu had repeatedly extended the deadline for the offer from a consortium led by billionaire shareholder John Whittaker, but today the consortium said it would abandon the takeover attempt.

“Given the uncertainty around current macroeconomic conditions and the potential near-term volatility across markets, the consortium is not able to proceed with an offer within a timeframe which is manageable within the confines of the code timetable,” Intu told investors.

Whittaker’s Peel Group, the Olayan Group and Brookfield Property Group backed out of the deal, despite Intu claiming “good progress” had been made as late as last week, with the consortium largely completing its due diligence and finding nothing to alter its 210.4p per share offer.

It is the second time this year that a buyer has walked away from Intu, after Hammerson ducked out of a £3.4bn purchase back in April that would have created the UK’s largest property company.

Hammerson said a deterioration of the stock market’s view of Intu was partly to blame for its withdrawal.

Intu’s share price fell by over 36 per cent in early trading today, to 122.4p.

John Whittaker said his firm, Peel Group, will remain an Intu shareholder despite the offer’s collapse.

“We remain fully committed to Intu Properties as a long-term, strategic shareholder, as demonstrated by our participation in the consortium’s possible offer,” he said.

“Intu’s portfolio of super regional and prime city centre shopping centres is trading strongly and benefiting from the retailer store rationalisation process that is currently underway in the UK.

“Physical retail continues to play a key role in all successful multi-channel retailer sales strategies and intu’s national portfolio of centres enjoys some of the highest customer footfall in the country.”

Intu's latest results saw £300m wiped off the value of its property portfolio as retailers shut up shop.