Intu, which owns some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, has appointed administrators as a “contingency” in case financial rescue talks fail.
In March, the owner of the Trafford Centre and Lakeside said it was in talks with lenders about new funding.
Intu had been struggling before coronavirus to fill outlets within some centres sites, and had heavy debts.
On Tuesday, Intu said “notwithstanding the progress made” it had appointed KPMG to plan for administration.
It is trying to arrange a system that would provide money to KPMG in order to avoid closing its shopping sites.