AEW Europe and CIC team-up on €1.3bn retail deal

The Paris-based firm and the Chinese sovereign wealth fund have acquired a portfolio of 10 shopping centers in Belgium and France from CBRE Global Investors.

AEW Europe, the pan-European real estate investment manager, has established a partnership with Chinese sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC), and acquired 10 shopping centers in Belgium and France.

The purchase price of the portfolio has not been disclosed but CBRE Global Investors have valued it at over €1.3 billion.

The pair purchased the ‘Celcius Portfolio’ from the Los Angeles-based real estate investment manager, CBRE Global Investors.

Totalling approximately 2.34 million square feet, the portfolio consists of the Waasland and Wijnegem shopping centers, two regional shopping centres located near Antwerp in Belgium. The remaining eight assets are located across France, including large urban shopping centres La Vache Noire in Paris and Centre Mayol in Toulon, as well as some smaller retail parks and factory outlets.

A number of leading retail brands, such as fashion retailers H&M, Zara, Hollister, FNAC, Monoprix and Peek & Cloppenburg are currently represented across the portfolio.
CBRE GI held the portfolio in its close-ended retail fund, CBRE Retail Property Fund France Belgium CV (RPFFB).

With the sale of the shopping centers the 2003-vintage vehicle has now been fully divested before its termination date later this year. Over its 12 year lifetime CBRE GI acquired and sold 26 retail assets.

“The fund has delivered an exceptional performance for the limited partners. Active asset management and asset rotation has resulted in a total return well in excess of the target IRR of 9.5 percent to our clients over the 12 year lifetime of the fund,” commented Marc Reijnen, fund manager of RPFFB.

On the sale side Morgan Stanley acted as sole financial advisor to CBRE GI. In addition, White & Case, Loyens & Loeff, PWC, Allez and Associes and Fairway acted as advisors on the transaction.

Clifford Chance, Etude Cheuvreux and Mazars acted as advisors to AEW Europe and CIC.