Intu: rent payments plummet, Puerto Venecia sale stalls

Intu has received only 29% of rents that were due yesterday for the second quarter of 2020, as retailers hit by coronavirus measures withhold payment.

The UK retail REIT, which has seen its share price collapse to 4p from 106p a year ago, said this time last year it collected 77% on the March quarter day. In the UK, rents are normally collected quarterly in advance.

Intu said: ‘Rent for the second quarter of the year in the UK was due on 25 March (the quarter day) and we have received 29% of this. We are in discussions with our customers on the outstanding rents. For the same period last year, we had received 77% on the quarter day.’

In a further blow, the struggling group also revealed that the impact of coronavirus is delaying the sale of intu Puerto Venecia, one of two Spanish shopping centres it put up for sale to raise urgently-needed cash.

‘The impact of Covid-19 in Europe is delaying certain regulatory approvals in relation to the disposal of intu Puerto Venecia and we now expect the £95 mln proceeds to be received in the middle of May at the earliest,’ a statement said.

Meanwhile, Intu has asked CBRE to look at a sale of two of its UK shopping centres, Merry Hill in Birmingham and intu Milton Keynes, as well as disposal of the REIT's 50% stake in the St David's Centre in Cardiff.

The company said it was in ‘constructive discussions’ with its banks to seek covenant waivers and disclosed that it is in ‘ongoing dialogue’ with the UK government to potentially access the £330 bn support package for UK businesses.

There is speculation that the UK government will have to take further action to support commercial landlords after this week’s announcement that commercial tenants are protected for a three-month period from non-payment of rent.