Hammerson has halted its proposed £3.4bn acquisition of rival Intu amid interest from French property giant Klépierre.

In a trading update today, the UK’s largest shopping centre landlord said it would delay finalising shareholder documents on the potential purchase while Klépierre’s position remains “unclear”.

As previously reported, Klépierre made a £5bn takeover approach for the business last month, putting Hammerson’s own bid for Intu under threat.

Klépierre now has until April 16 to make a formal offer for Hammerson or walk away from the deal.

Its first approach was branded “wholly inadequate and entirely opportunistic” by Hammerson chairman David Tyler.

Hammerson made its £3.4bn bid for Intu in December last year, in a move that would make it the owner of many of the UK’s largest shopping centres including London’s Brent Cross, Birmingham’s Bullring, Lakeside and Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

The shopping centre owner reported a 0.3% increase in the value of its property portfolio to just above £10.5bn. It insisted that the current crop of failing retailers such as Maplin and Toys R Us would not significantly impair its profits.

It added it would sell at least £500m worth of assets over the next year and was in “active negotiations” for sales.

Hammerson chief executive David Atkins said: “While we recognise the difficult trading environment and challenges felt by many retail and restaurant formats in the UK, there continues to be good demand for space across our centres.

“The positive momentum of the business is a mark of the quality of our portfolio and the skill of our team which are delivering continued income growth and will drive future shareholder return.”