By Eamon Quinn
Hammerson, the owner of Dundrum and Swords shopping centres, the 1916 battlefield site in central Dublin, as well as Kildare Village, is marshalling an uplift in the value of its Irish assets to help bolster its defences as it prepares to fight off the advances of €5.6bn takeover bid from French rival Klepierre.
In a business update, the property group cited the strong performance of Dundrum — which at 124,000sq metres is the country’s largest shopping centre — and its other Irish assets no fewer than half a dozen times, saying that Ireland has “delivered a particularly strong leasing performance”.
The British group is preparing its defences against Klepierre which last month made the €5.6bn approach, which Hammerson dismissed as “significantly” undervaluing the company.
Klepierre must decide by April 16 whether or not to make a bid. Its shares rose almost 2% in London, valuing the company at almost €5bn. Klepierre shares in Paris rose 1.5%, valuing it at almost €10.34bn.
At almost £1.1bn (€1.26bn) at the end of March, Hammerson’s Irish retail assets account for almost a tenth of its overall property value, of almost £10.6bn. With Allianz, Hammerson owns half of Dundrum Shopping Centre; a half share with Iput and Irish Life in the 46,000-square-metre Swords Pavillions; and with Irish Life half of the 30,000-square-metre Ilac Centre; and controls the nearby 1916 battlefield site.
It owns outright the Abbey Retail Park in Belfast and has a significant minority stake in the Kildare Village.
“Our attractive high-growth markets of Premium Outlets and Ireland are driving valuation growth,” said its chief executive David Atkins.
It said Pavillions in Swords had “an impressive start to the year” with lettings to Australian stationery firm Smiggle, while Dundrum was boosted by the opening of “fine food emporium Fallon & Byrne”.
The property group also hailed a successful court appeal involving the five-acre site and the 1916 battlefield near Dublin’s Henry and O’Connell Streets as “an outstanding European city centre development site”.
In Britain, it owns large minority stakes in Brent Cross in London and in Birmingham’s Bullring, and in France, it has a number of retail centres. It was weathering the difficulties faced in UK retailing, including the restructuring and administrations of New Look and Toy R US in Britain, it said. Hammerson said it had cut its net debt to £3.4bn from €3.5bn at the end of 2017 through disposals.