By Yadarisa Shabong
(Reuters) - UK-based mall operator Intu <INTUP.L> is asking its banks to waive its borrowing terms and seeking support from the government's coronavirus emergency schemes, the company said on Thursday, as it reported a collapse in rent payments by tenants.
British retail property owners and tenants have been working together this week to defer rent payments and find other ways for shops, businesses and landlords to cope with a countrywide shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Intu, which owns Manchester's Trafford Centre in northwest England, Lakeside in eastern England's Essex and several other properties across Britain and Spain, said on Tuesday it would lower its service charges for tenants by 22%.
But with the company already struggling with the collapse of a number of UK retail tenants, it said it had received only 29% of rents due on Wednesday and was discussing the situation with its lenders.
"In addition to the immediate actions we have taken to preserve liquidity, we have an ongoing dialogue with the UK Government and may look to access their 330 billion pound support package," the company added, saying it was also looking at all strategic options.
Britain promised last week to guarantee 330 billion pounds of bank lending to business and a further 20 billion pounds in tax cuts, grants and other help in the face of the crisis.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said he was including all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in the suspension of a property tax, alongside the new loan guarantee programme, while also telling landlords not to evict commercial tenants.
Intu said it expected the government measures to have a positive effect on the company but noted officials had also promised to monitor the impact on landlords' cash flow.
Fellow real estate firm British Land <BLND.L>, which has a range of retail tenants but more office rentals, said on Thursday it expected March rent deferrals of around 40 million pounds.
It said it could spread repayments of deferred rents over six quarters, while releasing smaller retail tenants from their rental obligations for three months until June.
Intu, which has sold some properties to shore up its finances, said it had 184 million pounds of available cash, and expected 95 million pounds in proceeds from the sale of intu Puerto Venecia in Spain by mid-May at the earliest.
With net debt of 4.69 billion pounds and losses of over 2 billion pounds in 2019, the company this month raised doubts about its future without new funding, even before the coronavirus shutdown.
(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Mark Potter)