Manchester’s the Trafford Centre has been taken over by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the country’s biggest pension fund, after previous owner Intu failed to find a buyer.

Before Intu’s collapse earlier this year, the pension fund – which invests on behalf of 20 million Canadians - had made a £250m loan to Intu Properties, secured against the Trafford Centre.

Intu fell into administration in June after talks to tackle its £4.5b debt pile, which was exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the hospitality and retail sector, broke down with lenders.

As one of Intu’s biggest creditors, CPPIB was reportedly unwilling to let it use the Trafford Centre to gain further credit with its banks, ultimately leading to Intu’s collapse.

Despite interest from retail tycoon Mike Ashley, Henderson Park Capital and Morgan Stanley’s property arm, CPPIB rejected offers, completed a debt-for-equity swap, and will continue to manage the centre and oversee its increase in value.

“The Trafford Centre is one of the UK’s top five shopping centres, welcoming more than 30 million shoppers annually, and counts many leading global retailers among its occupiers,” said Geoff Souter, managing director, head of real assets credit at CPPIB Credit.

“While conditions for retail in 2020 have been very challenging, we are able to take a long-term view and believe that, with strategic management and investment, the Trafford Centre has strong prospects.

“An immediate priority is to support the Trafford Centre’s management, ensuring continued optimal operation of the Trafford Centre, and to appoint a long-term expert operating partner.”