Hammerson raises £400m to go shopping

 
Kasmira Jefford
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HAMMERSON said yesterday it had raised £400m through a share placing as it planned to ramp up its exposure to the Europe’s booming outlet sector.

The FTSE 100 property giant sold its last office building this month as part of a strategy launched two years ago to focus solely on prime regional shop­ping centres, retail parks and premium designer outlets.

It plans to use £70m of the proceeds to create a new outlet venture with Value Retail, the owner of Bicester Vil­lage, Dutch pension fund asset manager APG and Meyer Bergman, the investment firm.

The vehicle, known as the VIA Outlet Fund, aims to buy outlets “close to major European cities” with a “strong tourist appeal” and has already bought two outlets in Amsterdam and the Czech Republic. Hammerson will own a 47 per cent stake in the fund.

It will also splurge £30m on expanding Value Retail’s Bicester Village, Kildare Village in Ireland and the new Value Retail village in Shanghai, which will open next year to serve China’s booming middle class.

It will also used the proceeds from the placing of 71.2m shares to buy from Hermes the 40 per cent stake in Highcross shopping centre in Leicester it does not already own for £180m.

Chief executive David Atkins said the deal “will allow us to capture the full future rental uplift from a number of asset management activities at this strongly performing centre”.

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