Shopping mall owner rejects £5bn French takeover bid

France's Klepierre confirms Hammerson approach was rejected in

France's Klepierre confirms Hammerson approach was rejected in "less than 24 hours"

Hammerson shares were up 26.2 percent at 552 pence by 0916 GMT on March 19.

Hammerson owns Birmingham's Bullring shopping centre as well as a 50 percent stake in Bicester Village, a high-end outlet shopping centre that is close to Oxford and a big draw for Chinese tourists.

The confirmation of an approach came after the Times reported that Klepierre had made a £5bn takeover approach, threatening to gatecrash the British property firm's proposed merger with Intu. "The board of Hammerson rejected the proposal in less than 24 hours".

In its statement, Hammerson argued that Klepierre's property portfolio was lower quality than its own.

Commercial landlords across Europe and the US have been grappling with the threat to brick-and-mortar retail from Amazon and other online shopping services.

The deal would have comprised 50% in new Klepierre shares and 50% in cash.

Hammerson, which agreed at the end of past year to buy Intu Properties for £3.4bn, said it remains committed to the deal, which "will deliver significant value" for its shareholders.

Indeed, just days after Hammerson announced the Intu deal in December, Europe's biggest property firm Unibail-Rodamco (UNBP.AS) agreed to buy US and United Kingdom mall operator Westfield Corp for $16 billion.

Hammerson said it had rejected the approach, which it described as "unsolicited and entirely opportunistic in its timing".

Hammerson said that it remained committed to the acquisition of Intu, saying it would offer "significant value" for shareholders, adding it would make Hammerson the United Kingdom market leader with 19 of the top 30 shopping centres.

But Hammerson hit back by saying that the offer significantly undervalued it because it was 20.7 percent lower than its net asset value per share of 776 pence as of the end of December.

"However, if the market holds little stock by a Klepierre/Hammerson tie-up, then Intu's share price response should be more aligned to Hammerson". Based on Friday's closing price, Hammerson had a market capitalisation of GBP3.47 billion.

Klépierre said in a statement that the proposal did not constitute an offer or impose any obligation on Klépierre to make an offer.

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