Protego and EFM plan €1.65-billion Nordic Retail Fund (UK/NL/SE)

Protego Real Estate Investors announces that it has commenced the formal marketing of the Nordic Retail Fund ("the Fund"). Protego is seeking to raise €585 million in equity, which when combined with gearing of up to 65% will enable the Fund to grow to circa €1.65 billion.

This core plus Euro-denominated fund will invest in a diversified portfolio of retail assets, primarily shopping centers, but also including retail parks as well as supermarkets, across the four major economies of the Nordic region, including Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway.

Protego's joint venture partner for the Fund is EFM Sverige AB, the property services division of Boultbee Land. EFM will be responsible for the asset, property and facilities management of the Nordic Retail Fund. EFM has a team of 54 people located in the Nordic region and currently manages circa SEK 10 billion of Nordic retail assets. EFM is the first multi-skilled specialist retail asset manager in the Nordic region, which includes asset management, construction, mall-trading and facilities management. In the last two years, EFM has established a strong track record in the Nordic region of improving rental tones in the retail assets it manages.

This is the second joint venture that Protego and EFM have arranged. In September of last year, Protego, in conjunction with EFM, launched the UK Actively Managed Shopping Centre Fund, which currently has eight institutional investors.

The initial Nordic portfolio comprises circa €585 million of retail property assets, located in Sweden and Finland. There are 11 shopping centers in the initial portfolio, eight of which comprise in excess of 75% of the portfolio, by value. The lettable area amounts to circa 303,000 m², providing critical mass and good initial diversification. Full business plans have been drawn up for all the properties in the portfolio.

Commenting, Charles Weeks, Head of Business Development at Protego, said: "There is a lot of interest in the Nordic region currently, owing to its attractive macro-economic environment. According to the INREV Investment Intentions Survey 2007, the Nordic region is the second most popular location for inward investment. With a combination of a circa €600 million initial portfolio and being the first specialist retail sector fund in the Nordic region we would expect that the Fund will prove popular with investors from the UK and mainland Europe."

Bo Falk, Managing Director, EFM Sverige AB, added: "This fund demonstrates EFM and Protego's long term commitment to Nordic retail markets. We are looking forward to building this fund as the pre-eminent retail offering to investors seeking Nordic retail exposure."

David Revill, Chairman, EFM, added: "We are delighted to be working with Protego on the Nordic Retail Fund. Having been active in the Nordic region for nearly two years, we have excellent market penetration which we will combine with the very intensive asset and property management skills that we share with Protego to deliver shareholder value.

"Having now established the first multi-discipline retail asset management team in the region, comprising 54 local staff – we are well placed to provide that value-enhancing style of intensive asset management that EFM are renowned for."

Source: Protego

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