Whittaker bids to take intu private

Trafford Centre developer wins backing for bid

Trafford Centre developer John Whittaker has confirmed he is preparing a bid for troubled shopping centre giant intu in partnership with Canadian and Saudi investors. Whittaker is deputy chairman of intu and has held a 26 per cent stake in the company since selling it the Trafford Centre a decade ago.

Intu’s share price has been in free fall since Hammerson withdrew its bid for the company earlier this year, and the stock market now values the company at just £2.1bn, a discount to its nett asset value of more than 50 per cent.

The opportunity to pick up the assets on the cheap has attracted the attention of Canadian asset manager Brookfield, which last year took the US shopping centre investor GGP private for $15bn. Brookfield is backing Whittaker and Saudi-based Olayan Group, which itself owns 3 per cent of intu’s shares.

In a Stock Exchange announcement the consortium said it was preparing a cash offer intu, but that so far no formal approach had been made to the board. Intu’s share price rose 30 per cent to 190p on the news.

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