UK's Hammerson plans to raise 800 million pounds from rights issue, stake sale: Sky News

(Reuters) – Britain’s Hammerson Plc (HMSO.L) plans to raise some 800 million pounds ($1.1 billion) from a rights issue and the sale of its 50% stake in VIA Outlets, Sky news reported on Saturday, as the mall operator tackles the fallout from coronavirus lockdowns.

The pandemic has left retailers struggling to pay rents as fewer customers visited stores, leading some, including major high street names John Lewis and Debenhams, to shut stores.

The rights issue alone could fetch Hammerson about 600 million pounds, according to the report, which said JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are advising.

The report said Hammerson is in detailed talks with VIA Outlets’ co-owner, Dutch pension fund APG, about the share sale in the company, whose portfolio includes fashion outlets in Amsterdam, Gothenburg and Prague.

Investment bank Lazard is advising Hammerson on measures to strengthen its balance sheet, it added.

Hammerson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company earlier received approval for the issuance of up to 300 million pounds under the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

At June-end Hammerson had managed to collect only 16% of rents due in the UK during the third quarter. Rival Intu Properties, Britain’s biggest mall owner, has already gone into administration.

A formal announcement about the capital raise could come alongside Hammerson’s half-year results, which are scheduled to be announced on Thursday, according to the report.

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