Intu in talks over help from government as covid-19 puts more pressure on malls firm

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Embattled shopping centres owner Intu on Thursday said it is in talks with the Government for help after it hit shareholders with another barrage of bad news.

The cash-strapped owner of Lakeside in Essex, which has a £4.5 million debt pile, said it is having “ongoing dialogue” with the Government.

It added that it may look to access some of the £330 billion of state-backed loans and guarantees the Chancellor said he would make available as firms battle coronavirus disruption.

Intu chief executive Matthew Roberts said that he has been speaking to one of the ministers in the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee. Roberts said of some of the Government talks: “These have been about making sure the banks behave through debt negotiations.”

Roberts said talks with Intu’s lenders about seeking covenant waivers have been “constructive”.

The discussions come as Intu, which has been battered by brutal High Street conditions and plunging retail property values, warned of more difficulties.

The company said that of the second quarter rent bill it was due to get yesterday from tenants, just 29% was paid. That compares to 77% a year earlier.

This time around most of the retailers and restaurant owners that occupy Intu sites have no trade because of Government-enforced closures due to Covid-19.

The firm also warned one disposal in Spain has been delayed because of the virus.

Shares in the malls firm edged down slightly to 3.95p, valuing Intu at just £50 million.

The shares have tumbled around 96% in the past year as Intu grappled with a wave of headwinds.

The company recently failed in its bid to raise an emergency £1 billion to £1.5 billion from investors. It is currently looking at new ways to raise funds including potentially selling properties and debt restructuring.

Intu warned earlier this month it risks going under if no fresh funding is secured. Latest financial results from the firm point to a “material uncertainty in relation to Intu’s ability to continue as a going concern”.

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March 27, 2020 |
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