ABP, Klépierre buy Scandinavia’s largest shopping center owner for €2.7bn

ABP, one of the largest pension funds in the world, has teamed up with a subsidiary of French bank BNP Paribas to acquire Norwegian shopping center group Steen & Strøm.

Dutch pension fund ABP and BNP Paribas subsidiary Klépierre have acquired Norway’s shopping center owner for €2.7 billion ($4.2 billion).

Though ABP is best known in private equity real estate circles as a powerful limited partner and co-investor, the deal is being carried out as a direct investment to bulk up its exposure to shopping centers in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Patrick Kanters, managing director, Global Real Estate at ABP’s investment manager, said: “It is very rare to be able to get substantial exposure to one of Europe’s leading fully integrated shopping centre platforms. This acquisition complements our strategic portfolio of retail specialists and will allow Steen & Strom’s management to continue its successful development program.”

Steen & Strom, which is being sold by Stein Erik Hagen’s privately owned Norwegian investment company Canica, owns 30 shopping centers. It also manages another 26 centers on behalf of third parties and has six further malls under construction. It owns 18 centers in Norway, nine in Sweden and three in Denmark.

According to a statement from the joint purchasers, ABP will own 43.9 percent while Klépierre will own 56.1 percent. The existing management will remain in place. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2008.

Michel Clair, chairman of the executive board of Klépierre, said: “In a period of slower growth for the economies of Western Europe, the acquisition of Steen & Strøm allows Klépierre to diversify its holdings, its pipeline of development projects and its revenues in a very solid economic region, and to get the support it needs from an extremely efficient management team of 400 employees.”