Intu in £250m deal for Midsummer Place shopping centre

The UK's biggest shopping centres owner has expanded its empire as it shrugged off a year of falling rents and visitors to its centres.

Intu Properties, formerly known as Capital Shopping Centres, is spending £250.5m to buy Milton Keynes' Midsummer Place as it seeks to plug a gap in its regional portfolio, tapping markets for the cash with a share placing.

The shares fell 9p to 333.9p as it said it will place up to 86 million shares, or 9.9 per cent of its share capital, at 342.9p each to help fund the deal.

The company already owns 14 shopping centres.

Intu, which is spending £25m on rebranding all its centres under its new name, launching free wi-fi for shoppers and investing £1bn in its centres over the next 10 years – saw the value of its £7bn portfolio edge higher last year.

But Intu's net rental income dipped by 2.7 per cent last year as the company bore the brunt of retail failures such as La Senza and Game, while customer footfall at its shopping centres fell for the first time in three years.

Intu's chief executive, David Fischel, who stressed the company is still outperforming the industry, said occupancy remained high at 96 per cent as the group managed to re-let most of the vacant units.

"In this economic climate tenant failures are part and parcel of the business," he added.