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Shopping centre owner Intu’s shares fall as it aims to raise up to £1bn | Business

Shares in Intu fell sharply after the indebted shopping centre owner confirmed it would push ahead with a cash call thought to be worth as much as £1bn.

Intu, which owns shopping centres including the Trafford Centre in Manchester and Lakeside in Essex, said that it attempt to tap investors for funds alongside its full-year results at the end of the February, confirming reports.

The company has been hit by the weak backdrop for high street retailers, as struggling groups including Arcadia and Debenhams occupy a lot of space in its centres.

While Intu did not confirm how much it planned to raise, the figure is thought to be around the £1bn mark.

“Further to recent press speculation, Intu properties plc continues to make progress in its strategy to fix the balance sheet,” the company said in a market announcement on Monday. “Consistent with previous announcements, this now includes targeting an equity raise alongside its full year results at the end of February.

“The company is currently engaged in constructive discussions with both shareholders and potential new investors on the proposed equity raise.”

The news sent shares down 7% in morning trading to another new low of 21p. Intu’s share price has plunged more than 80% over the past 12 months, slashing its market value to £290m. That is just a fraction of the £8bn at which its properties are officially valued.

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While the Intu chief executive, Matthew Roberts, said the company’s occupancy rate remains “stable” at about 95%, it has been affected by cuts in rental payments by some of its key tenants that have undergone through emergency financial restructuring.

Intu is struggling with £5bn of debt and has been trying to sell properties to try lighten the load.

Roberts said: “We are making good progress with fixing the balance sheet, our number one priority, and are confident we have the right strategy in place to enable us to prosper as we see continued polarisation between the best destinations and the rest.”

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