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Intu shares soar on possible consortium bid

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(Reuters) – Shares in Intu Properties <INTUP.L> soared more than 37 percent on Friday after a consortium, including British billionaire John Whittaker and Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management <BAMa.TO>, said it was considering a bid for the shopping centre owner.

Peel Group, which is the investment vehicle of the Whittaker family, Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group and property investor Brookfield said on Thursday they were weighing a cash offer for the London-listed company.

Intu has a market value of 2 billion pounds.

“A cash bid for Intu should warrant serious consideration by its shareholders …. Intu’s prospects as a standalone entity are threatened by above average financial leverage which limits its ability to self-fund growth and maintenance capex,” Liberum analysts said.

“A cash bid could offer shareholders a chance to salvage value ahead of a potential cash-call or dividend cut, under a new CEO.”

Intu shares were up 24.6 percent at 185 pence at 0718 GMT to top the FTSE midcap index <.FTMC>.

Intu said it had not received an approach from a consortium, but had set up an independent committee to consider any approach.

Peel and Olayan, the conglomerate founded by the Olayan family, together hold 29.9 percent of Intu, the consortium said.

Under British rules, the consortium now has until Nov. 1 to make a firm offer or walk away.

British rival Hammerson shelved a 3.4 billion takeover of Intu in April due to heightened concerns about the British retail sector.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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