Hammerson has agreed to acquire the majority stake in Saint Sébastien shopping center in Nancy, North East France, from AXA Real Estate on behalf of one of its clients for £109 million (approx. €132 million). The acquisition underlines Hammerson's commitment to generating income growth through investment in prime retail destinations in the UK and France.
The 24,000 m² center comprises 105 shops and restaurants with over 1,000 car park spaces, and is anchored by Monoprix, Intersport, C&A and Sephora. It is centrally located in the historic city of Nancy, the principal city between Paris and Strasbourg.
Nancy is one of France's top 20 cities and the shopping center adjoins 'Nancy Grand Coeur', the town center regeneration area which is planned to create over 200,000 m² of new offices and retail, plus over 700 new homes. Saint Sébastien, with an annual footfall of 8 million, is the only shopping center in central Nancy, and is the dominant retail center within the wealthy 45 minute catchment area.
The stake generates gross annual rents of £7 million, representing a 6% yield on the purchase price including transaction costs. Hammerson will assume responsibility for managing the center which is fully occupied and offers reversionary potential, with recent deals struck c. 10% above previous passing rents.
Saint Sébastien provides the opportunity for Hammerson to create significant value by refreshing and updating the tenant mix, and implementing specific asset management initiatives including a renovation of the center and introduction of a dedicated restaurant terrace. The center also offers the potential for expansion in the medium term.
The stake represents 75% of the gross lettable area. Other co-owners include C&A and various institutional and private investors. Completion of the transaction is expected by the end of March 2014, and it is anticipated to be accretive to earnings in the current year.
Commenting on the acquisition, David Atkins, Hammerson Chief Executive said: "This acquisition is consistent with our strategy of growing income by creating successful retail destinations. This is a rare opportunity to selectively extend our retail footprint in France, and provides a good opportunity for us to use our expertise to create value through active management of the center. Nancy is a vibrant city with a wealthy catchment area, in which Saint Sébastien has the prominent retail position."