By Ben Martin
LONDON, April 25 (Reuters) - A 3.4 billion-pound takeover of British shopping centre operator Intu Properties by bigger rival Hammerson has been formally scrapped after Hammerson was freed from its obligation to hold a shareholder vote on the deal.
Intu said on Wednesday that its board would not post the scheme of arrangement documents for the takeover to its investors and that Hammerson would no longer have to proceed with the all-share deal and put it to a vote.
Intu, which owns Manchester’s Trafford Centre, would have also been required to hold a meeting to allow its shareholders to agree to the takeover.
It comes after Hammerson’s board made a U-turn on the deal last week in the face of opposition from its own shareholders amid concerns that buying Intu would increase the company’s exposure to Britain’s retail sector at a time when shops are being hit by flagging consumer confidence.
The Hammerson board took the unusual step of withdrawing its recommendation that its shareholders support the takeover at the meeting it was due to convene to approve the deal.
At the same time as dropping its backing for the deal, Hammerson, which owns Birmingham’s Bullring and London’s Brent Cross, also asked Intu for permission to abandon its meeting altogether.
“Hammerson’s offer was conditional on the approval of its shareholders,” Intu said on Wednesday.
“In light of the Hammerson board’s decision to change its recommendation and to advise its own shareholders to vote against the Intu transaction, Intu believes that there is now no realistic prospect that this condition will be satisfied.”
The deal had looked uncertain ever since French shopping centres group Klepierre tried to disrupt the takeover with an attempt to buy Hammerson in March.
Klepierre, which had wanted to buy Hammerson without Intu, was ultimately unsuccessful with its 5 billion-pound ($7 billion) bid for Hammerson.
However, worries among Hammerson shareholders about the Intu deal mounted after Klepierre dropped its sweetened 635 pence-a-share bid for the company earlier this month.
Intu shares slipped 0.3 percent to 197.4 pence and Hammerson was down 0.2 percent at 537.6 pence in afternoon trade in London. ($1 = 0.7171 pounds) (Additional reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan Editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir)