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Bullring owner Hammerson plans sell-offs amid losses

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Selfridges at Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre

Shopping centre owner Hammerson, owner of Birmingham’s Bullring, has reported an annual loss and says it will sell off more assets as it tries to cut its debt burden.

The firm, which also owns the Bicester Village designer outlet and London’s Brent Cross shopping centre, is targeting £500m of disposals for 2019.

The announcement came as it unveiled its 2018 results, showing a pre-tax loss of £266.7m,

In 2017, it made a £413m profit.

Chief executive David Atkins said 2018 had been “a tough year, particularly in the UK”, after a number of high-profile retailers went into administration.

“Tenant failures, the structural shift in retail and a more considered consumer created a difficult operating environment, putting pressure on property values.”

Hammerson said its board had been in discussion with key shareholders and had entered into a “relationship agreement” with activist investor Elliott Advisors, which holds a significant stake in the company.

Elliott issued a statement welcoming Hammerson’s moves, which include a decision to recruit two additional independent non-executive directors.

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