BRITISH shopping centre giant Intu has gone into administration after failing to secure a debt repayment holiday from lenders.
The company, which owns three malls in Spain and 17 in the UK, had lined up administrators KPMG.
Intu is behind the upcoming Intu Costa del Sol resort in Torremolinos and also has shares in sites in Asturias, Zaragoza and Madrid.
The firm has collapsed after battling a ‘€5 billion debt mountain’, which arose as brands at its sites defaulted on rent payments, due reduced footfalls during the pandemic.
This will likely make it one of the UK’s largest casualties of the coronavirus crisis.
A spokesperson for Intu on Friday had said: “The board is therefore considering the position of Intu with a view to protecting the interests of its stakeholders.
“This is likely to involve the appointment of administrators. A further announcement will be made as soon as possible.”
The firm will keep all its UK sites open, which include the Trafford Centre and the Lakeside complex.
It had sold its site in Asturias earlier this year in a deal worth around €218 million.
At Intu’s Torremolinos site, which had been set to open in 2023, not a brick has been laid.
Talks are ongoing for a takeover of the €800 million site , which will be Spain’s biggest shopping centre.
A purchase offer for the site has been tabled by the Madrid-based Eurofund Group, led by Brit Ian Sandford.
Intu previously took on Eurofund as ‘development manager’ of its Xanadu shopping centre in Madrid.
A deal between the two parties was likely, according to local newspaper Malaga Hoy, despite sources telling the paper that Intu had previously refused to sell.
A Eurofund spokesperson told the paper: “After the purchase offer presented to Intu by Eurofund, it has high hopes that an agreement will be reached given the special relationship of Eurofund, by nature of the existing agreements, and thus be able to continue the execution of this extraordinary project on the Costa del Sol.”
Sandford set up Eurofund in the Spanish capital in 1994 and was a pioneer of the mixed shopping centre and leisure model.
A senior British surveyor in Spain told the Olive Press: “Ian’s more than capable of taking it over.”
They added: “He’s a serious player now, especially if it’s a project worth investing in and if it’s a good project.
“There will definitely be others interested, but retail isn’t the flavour of the month.”
In 2015 Intu bought the plot for Intu Costa del Sol from the Peel Group for €37.5 million.
The company presented its plans for the project to Torremolinos Town Hall on May 29 this year.
Intu has sunk €800 million into the site, which it is hoped will attract 23 million visitors a year and generate 6,500 jobs.
The 235,000sqm site will sit north of Torremolinos’ Palacio de Congresos.
Intu’s website says it will house ‘the very best in retail, more than 20 different leisure activities, two hotels, a complete range of F&B options, a beach club, a 5000-person concert venue and much more’.
The Olive Press has approached Eurofund for an official comment.
This article is being updated.