Hammerson’s about-turn on its R357bn mega-merger plans with UK mall owner Intu Properties has placed the latter in a precarious position. The Intu board can stand its ground and insist that shareholders still vote on the deal, or the company can back away quietly. In terms of Hammerson’s proposed all-share offer for Intu, the terms of which were agreed by both parties in December, the deal does not automatically collapse. Hammerson is still obliged to convene a shareholder meeting to consider the Intu acquisition — unless Intu agrees otherwise. If Intu doesn’t give its consent to Hammerson to cancel its shareholder vote, Hammerson’s offer will only lapse if at least 50% of its shareholders vote against the merger. Both Hammerson and Intu are dual-listed in London and on the JSE and have a sizeable shareholder base in SA.It will be interesting to see what route Intu chooses, given that the company is clearly unimpressed by Hammerson’s sudden change of heart. Hammerson’s decision last...

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