Hammerson has asked shareholders for £584m to pay debt and help prevent a possible breach of banking covenants.

The issue, which was larger than expected, is part of a sector-wide attempt to recapitalise balance sheets, with British Land yesterday confirming the half sale of its Meadowhall shopping centre for £588m.

In December, the Financial Times reported that British Land had entered talks to sell the centre to London & Stamford, backed by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth.

The Hammerson issue – seven new shares for every five held – is priced at 150p, 62 per cent below the 397p closing share price on Friday. After the rights issue, its gearing would fall to 81%, against the nearest covenant of 150%.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Independent