Westfield has agreed to sell its interest in three non-core smaller centres in the UK. The sale of its interests in Castlecourt in Belfast (33 per cent), the Friary in Guildford (50 per cent) and Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells (33 per cent) will raise £159m, in line with book value.
The Friary Centre, Guildford is nearing the end of a joint £40m repositioning project that has introduced a host of new large format stores and attracted new retailers to Guildford including Urban Outfitters and Hollister. CastleCourt and Royal Victoria Place are key, dominant locations within their own catchments.
Hermes acquired the centres as part of the MEPC portfolio, and sold the stakes to Westfield, as well as granting Westfield the management contract, when it first entered the UK market. Hermes will now bring the management of the centres back in-house.
Westfield chief executive Steven Lowy said: “These assets were originally purchased in 2000, at the time of our initial entry into the UK. Since that time we have refocused our business into iconic assets such as Westfield London and Stratford City and we continue to examine new growth opportunities in the UK. Along with the recent sale of Nottingham, these assets divested today became non-core to our UK portfolio”.
Chris Taylor, CEO at Hermes Real Estate Investment Management, said: “The acquisition of these centres comes at the right time in the cycle, and accordingly they offer good long term value. This transaction fits our UK investment strategy which seeks to focus upon direct ownership of properties which we asset manage and acquired through bottom up stock selection. The three centres are each commanding assets within their respective catchments and we believe our strong asset management platform will enable us to deliver significant added value in the long term.”