British retail developer and landlord Hammerson announced on Wednesday that it has sold seven UK retail parks to Canadian private equity firm Brookfield Asset Management for £330million (€380million), marking the mall operator’s exit from the retail sector British retail parks marked.
However, in a statement to The Irish Examiner last week, the company said none of the group’s Irish investments would be sold. Hammerson owns Kildare Village Shopping Center and 50% of Dundrum Town Centre. It also has an interest in the Ilac Shopping Center and the Swords Pavilions in Co Dublin.
UK shopping centers are due to be fully operational by mid-May as part of a phased exit plan from the coronavirus restrictions that have kept shoppers at home and led to widespread retail rent deferrals.
The divestment will help Hammerson shore up its finances after the UK-headquartered company reported a £1.7 billion loss for 2020 and issued a longer-term debt warning as the coronavirus crisis battered the value of its shopping centres.
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“Our immediate priority is to strengthen the balance sheet. This recent divestment is a positive move,” said CEO Rita-Rose Gagné.
The transaction represents a discount of 8% to the book value of the assets as of December 31Stand brings total gross proceeds from the company’s divestitures to £403m in 2021, Hammerson said.
Retail parks have been relatively resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic, in part because key retailers have been allowed to operate from these parks during the lockdown, which also offer drive-in and open-air shopping experiences.
Retail rental companies expect the retail recovery to lag behind the broader UK economy, which was already struggling with a shift to online shopping and high costs before the pandemic.