Universal-Investment, on behalf of BVK, acquires Liffey Valley Shopping Centre

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Bayerische Versorgungskammer (BVK), Germany’s largest pension scheme group, and investment manager Universal-Investment have completed the acquisition of Liffey Valley Shopping Centre and an adjacent seven-hectare parcel of development land.

The acquisition was made for an institutional real estate fund on the platform of Universal-Investment, administered and managed on behalf of BVK. HWBC acted as advisers to the purchasers and as the transaction managers and co-ordinators for all parties on the BVK and Universal-Investment side. This is the latest of a number of acquisitions across Europe by Universal-Investment for BVK.

Liffey Valley was formerly owned by a consortium comprising HSBC Alternative Investments Limited (HAIL), Grosvenor Britain & Ireland and Hines. Hines will continue to act as asset and development manager for the centre following the closing of the sale.

Liffey Valley is one of Ireland’s most successful and vibrant shopping and leisure destinations with over 100 shops, restaurants, a multiplex cinema and 3,500 parking spaces. The co-owners, over the last three years, have delivered significant improvements to Liffey Valley including the development of the newly completed Western End extension to the centre which is now fully operational and includes a new anchor Penneys Store, six restaurants, a new external façade and an upgraded cinema. As a result of this new development, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre now comprises over 71,000 square metres of retail and leisure space.

In August 2016, planning permission was granted for an additional 22,000 square metres of net retail space together with a mix of other uses. Plans include a transformation of the centre’s civic spaces with the addition of a major new public space equivalent to a typical European-scale Urban Plaza.

Brian Moran, senior managing director with Hines Ireland, said, “Hines, along with the new owners, is looking forward to continuing this work. Liffey Valley is a landmark asset which, in recent years, has offered considerable upside potential, thanks to an improving Irish commercial real estate sector, strong tenant demand and significant development opportunities. Hines is delighted to be involved in continuing growing Liffey Valley’s role as a leading employer and contributor to the local community and wider region for the long term.”

David Yaldron, director, Grosvenor Developments said “Grosvenor has had a 20-year association with Liffey Valley Shopping Centre having been involved since it was first developed and opened in the mid-1990s. We have enjoyed a strong performance from the asset throughout this time and are particularly proud of the developments our investment has delivered recently at the western end of the centre. We look forward to seeing it continue to thrive under its new ownership.”

Paul Forshaw, managing director and head of Real Estate Fund Management, HSBC Alternative Investments Limited, said, “Since acquisition in 2014, the asset-management initiatives implemented by the ownership consortium have generated both significant enhancements to the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, and very strong performance for our investors. Liffey Valley now plays an increasingly important role in the region, and we expect it to continue to prosper under new management.”

HWBC Managing Director Tony Waters said, “Liffey Valley is one of Ireland’s most attractive shopping centre assets and there was considerable international investor interest in this transaction. We believe the fundamentals of the Irish economy and the continuing recovery in Irish consumer confidence will sustain investor interest in 2017, following a busy 2016.”

Alexander Tannenbaum, managing director of Universal-Investment, adds, “Retail properties and offices are the most favored real estate sectors in German institutional investors’ portfolios and provide good diversification and deliver steady returns.”

Source : Hines

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