British Land buys out joint venture partner for £163m

British Land has bought out the remaining share in BL Universal, its joint venture with the retailer GUS, for £163m. The 50:50 joint venture was set up in February 1997, when British Land bought 982 properties from GUS. British Land has now paid GUS £120m for its 50% share plus £43m to repay a loan from the retailer to the joint venture.

The deal values BL Universal at around £240m. On 30 September 2003, the venture’s property portfolio was valued at £761.2m and its net annual income was £50.3m. Since BL Universal was established, 894 of the 982 properties originally in the portfolio have been sold, with the proceeds invested mainly in retail parks. The portfolio now includes 101 properties, 80% of which is retail and 20% office space. Of the retail space, 40% is shops, 30% retail warehousing and 10% supermarkets.

GUS Chief Executive, John Peace, commented: “Since 2000, we have been refocusing on our chosen growth businesses. The disposal of our property joint venture is a further natural step in this process.”

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