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Hammerson buys Intu and plans to go ahead with its Torremolinos project

Image of how the 'shopping resort' in Torremolinos will look.
Image of how the 'shopping resort' in Torremolinos will look. / SUR
  • The owner of Brent Cross retail centre will merge to form a property giant, and build the biggest retail and leisure centre on the Mediterranean

The British company Hammerson, which owns major shopping and retail centres in the UK including Bicester Village, The Bullring in Birmingham, Brent Cross (London), Highcross (Leicester) and many more, has announced that it has plans to acquire the Intu group, one of its biggest competitors, to create a giant property and development business worth billions of pounds.

After the merger of these two businesses, which are among the top property companies in Europe, the new group will continue with plans to build on the Costa del Sol, where Intu has already designed a project for the biggest shopping and leisure centre on the Mediterranean.

This complex, to the north of the Palacio de Congresos in Torremolinos “will be very important” for the new company, which will be called Hammerson but will still use the Intu brand on its signs in the retail centres.

Representatives of Hammerson say that the Costa del Sol is a growing region which is of great interest to developers. The forthcoming merger will make the new group the second largest property company listed on the stock market in Europe, after the French Unibail-Rodamco.

Hammerson and Intu believe this move will expand their possibilities of growth in Spain and Ireland, and will enable them to respond to the rapidly changing preferences of consumers. In Spain, Intu owns 50 per cent of the Xadadú (Madrid), Puerto Venecia (Zaragoza) and Parque Principado (Asturias) commercial centres, and it has spent months finalising its new project in Torremolinos, where it already owns land.

Intu's concept of developing to adapt to new consumer habits and attract clients, in a sector where online shopping is gaining ground, involves the construction of 'shopping resorts', large centres with a combination of shops and open-air areas with many different attractions.

In Torremolinos, as well as the commercial areas, which will take up about one-third of the space, the company plans to incorporate a resident circus, a big wheel, a wind tunnel, a wave pool, climbing area, a lake, a ski slope, a large screen and an aquarium.

Hammerson has not said whether it will modify the plans drawn up by Intu, although sources at the company say that as a larger group it will be “in a more favourable position” to carry out different projects.

In the document issued this week, Hammerson said that the Torremolinos project will be similar to some of Intu's most successful shopping centres, such as Merry Hill, Lakeside and Watford.

The new group will have a pan-European portfolio of retail and leisure assets valued at 23.7 billion euros.