Hammerson’s £400m deal to sell seven UK retail parks collapses

Hammerson has said its £400 million deal to sell seven retail parks has collapsed after the private equity buyer pulled out.

The UK-based retail landlord said that Orion European Real Estate notified the company last month that it did not intend to complete the acquisition.

The company, which also owns the Bullring in Birmingham, had agreed to sell retail parks in Middlesbrough, Falkirk, Rugby and St Helens as part of the deal.

Hammerson and Orion exchanged unconditional contracts confirming the sale on February 20, it said.

However, Hammerson said it agreed to the cancellation and will therefore receive £21 million which had been held as a deposit for the deal.

The transaction would have been the largest sale of UK retail parks in a decade but was severely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic which has resulted in the shutdown of all non-essential retailers.

It is a blow to Hammerson’s attempts to exit the retail park category in order to focus on its portfolio of flagship sites.

Hammerson has sold 14 retail parks since 2018, generating sales proceeds of £764 million to reduce the group’s debt and strengthen its balance sheet.

Shares in the retail landlord slumped 4.5% to 57p in early trading on Wednesday.