Deadline set for firm Capital offer

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Simon Property Group objects to Capital's plan to buy the Trafford Centre

The US property giant that is circling the UK’s leading shopping mall owner has been given a deadline to make a full offer.

Simon Property Group made an indicative offer worth nearly £3 billion to buy Capital Shopping Centres earlier this week on the condition that Capital does not go ahead with its proposed acquisition of the Trafford Centre.

Capital, which owns the Lakeside and Metro shopping centres, dismissed the bid as an undervaluation of the company and accused Simon of trying to frustrate its bid to buy the Trafford Centre.

The Takeover Panel has now issued a “put up or shut up order” which gives Simon until 5pm on January 12 to make a firm offer for Capital, after which it cannot make another bid for six months.

Simon, a 5% shareholder in Capital, objects to the £1.6 billion bid for the Trafford Centre because it would give the centre’s owner Peel Holdings, controlled by billionaire John Whittaker, up to 20% of shares in the company.

Capital welcomed the order, and added: “The board is pleased that this development will bring to an end the uncertainty created by Simon’s attempts to frustrate the Trafford Centre acquisition and will ensure that Capital’s shareholders will have clarity over the nature of any proposal which Simon may put forward.”

Capital’s shareholders were due to vote about whether to press ahead with the acquisition on December 20 but it postponed the meeting to January 26 following Simon’s bid.

Simon, based in Indianapolis, wanted the acquisition to be put on hold while it looked at a possible takeover bid for Capital, but the British company has so far given its pursuer short-shrift in the absence of any firm offer.

Simon also earlier this week proposed an alternative funding deal for the Trafford Centre, under which it would put up some of the money to pay Peel in cash and Simon, not Peel, would own up to 26.9% of the shares in the company.

Capital said the Trafford acquisition would cement its position as the leading UK shopping centre group with 14 centres, including four of the country’s top six out-of-town destinations.

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