Oct 8, 2018
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Hammerson sells Highcross stake, launches international JV

Oct 8, 2018

There’s plenty of activity at the moment around the companies that own most of the UK’s biggest shopping malls. And after it emerged that Intu could be a bid target, Hammerson announced it had sold a 50% stake in Highcross shopping centre in Leicester and has set up an Asian joint venture.

The sale price is £236 million, which is a 5% discount to the property’s December 2017 book value, “allowing for capex associated with the proactive reconfiguration of the former House of Fraser store.”

The deal creates a new £472 million joint venture “with an Asian investor introduced by M&G Real estate,” we’re told, although it didn’t name the investor. Hammerson will manage the centre for the new joint venture and the sale price represents a net initial yield of 5.5%.

Highcross is said by the company to be Leicester’s leading retail destination. The 110,000 sq m property attracts 18 million visitors a year and is anchored by John Lewis, Debenhams and a Showcase Cinema de Lux.

Hammerson said the centre “continues to experience strong demand from retailers, with luxury perfume brand Jo Malone London recently opening its first boutique in the city there. Debenhams has invested £5 million in store improvements as well as introducing new brands to the city through concessions including Maisons du Monde, Murad and Kat Von D. The company also saw the recent opening there of an upsized flagship for Zara, plus a larger JD Sports store, in what used to be a HoF location. As at 30 June, Highcross’s occupancy was 96.7% with an annual passing rent of £26.7 million.

The latest transaction takes the firm’s total disposals in 2018 to over £530 million, including the sale of four retail parks earlier this year in line with its plans to exit the retail park sector over the medium term.

CEO David Atkins said the firm has now achieved close to 90% of its increased 2018 disposal target of £600 million and the Highcross price “underpins the underlying strengths of our flagship destinations. It is clear there are institutional investors that continue to have the appetite to buy into top tier centres and see value in creating joint ventures with skilled operators.”

John Duxbury, M&G’s Head of Retail & Leisure, added: “The retail sector has its challenges, but prime assets in the right locations will be resilient to the changing retail landscape and continue to deliver attractive risk adjusted returns for our investors. With a strong line up of retail and leisure brands, we are confident that Highcross has an exciting future.”

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