Billionaire Whittaker Can Raise Intu Stake Above Cap This Month

Billionaire investor John Whittaker’s Peel Group can increase its stake in Intu Properties Plc to 25 percent or more later this month after a deal capping the holding expires.

Peel agreed to the limit as part of its 2011 sale of the Trafford Centre near Manchester, England, to Capital Shopping Centres Group Plc, which later became Intu, according to a filing at the time by the buyer.

Intu, the U.K.’s biggest shopping-mall owner, paid Manchester-based Peel 748 million pounds ($1.23 billion) in shares and bonds for the mall, a record price at the time for a British property. It also assumed 852 million pounds of debt.

Whittaker currently controls 19.73 percent of Intu’s ordinary shares through Peel and other companies and can raise that to 23.7 percent by converting bonds he holds, according to a Jan. 7 filing.

Paul Newman, a spokesman for Peel, said the company doesn’t comment on its shareholdings. Michael Sandler, an Intu spokesman who works for public relations firm Hudson Sandler, declined to comment.

Intu has fallen about 18 percent in London trading since shareholders approved the deal for the mall, now called Intu Trafford Centre.

Whittaker, who is deputy chairman of London-based Intu, has a net worth of at least $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His stake is capped at 24.9 percent until Jan. 28.

Peel also owns ports, airports, leisure facilities and energy companies.

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