Sprucefield retail park sold for £40m - Intu offloads property in bid to reduce debts

Intu has completed the £40 million sale of a retail park in Northern Ireland as the property owner continues with its disposal programme in a bid to revive its fortunes.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 11:34 am

The retail landlord has sold the Sprucefield out-of-town retail park in Lisburn to rival property firm NewRiver, it told investors on Monday.

FTSE 250 firm NewRiver, which said last week it had already purchased four retail parks over the past year, has bought the 231,000 sq ft Sprucefield site, which has five units including a Sainsbury's supermarket and a B&Q.

Intu, which owns shopping centres including Manchester's Trafford Centre, has seen its share value more than halve since the start of 2019 as retailers collapsing, closing stores and asking for rent cuts weighed on the business.

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Sprucefield retail park, on the outskirts of Lisburn. (Photo: Presseye)

It has started selling sites in a bid to reduce its debts, with its net external debt standing at £4.87 billion according to its latest annual report.

In April, Intu sold a 50% stake in its Derby shopping centre to investment firm Cale Street for £186 million.

Matthew Roberts, chief executive of Intu, said: "We announced our new strategy at the interim results in July.

"A key element of this is fixing the balance sheet which includes creating liquidity through disposals.

"We are pleased to conclude this transaction, which along with the part-disposal of Intu Derby and other sundry asset sales in 2019 brings the year to date disposals total to £268 million."

Earlier this month, Intu warned that its rental income for 2019 is predicted to slide by 9% for the year due to the impact of painful retail restructurings.

The company has been at the centre of a number of takeover offers recently, witnessing a £3.4 billion sale to Bullring owner Hammerson collapse in April last year.

The company was later the subject of another takeover bid led by Peel Group, valuing it at £2.8 billion.

This too ended in disappointment as the bidders abandoned the deal in November 2018.