Hammerson holds stakes in Birmingham's Bullring, London's Brent Cross and Bicester Village, while Intu's properties include Manchester's Arndale and Trafford Centre, Lakeside in Essex and the Metrocentre in Gateshead, Europe's largest covered shopping centre. Intu shareholders will receive 0.475 new Hammerson share for each Intu share, the companies said.
Mr Atkins, a Hammerson staffer since 1998 and chief executive since October 2009, has at last found what he was looking for: another load of shopping centres.
"This marks an exciting milestone in the history of Hammerson", said its Chief Executive David Atkins.
Shareholders will vote on the deal next year, with Intu having already secured 50 per cent of investor support for the all-paper deal.
Upon completion, Hammerson is hoping to tap into new, high-value markets such as those in growing economies like Ireland and Spain, while using extra cash to expand its Premium Outlets platform.
"The financial strength of the enlarged group and its strong leadership team will make it well-placed to take advantage of higher growth opportunities on a pan-European scale".
Hammerson shareholders will own 55 per cent of the combined firm, with Intu investors holding the remainder.
Hammerson said it had identified £2bn worth of properties in both companies' portfolios it planned to dispose of "over the short to medium term". Queensland Investment Corporation retained the other half until intu agreed to acquire the remaining 50 per cent past year in a £410m deal.