Blackstone buys Spain and Portugal malls

The firm’s record-breaking European Fund IV has acquired three centers on behalf of its pan European mall owner and development company, Multi Corporation

The Blackstone Group has acquired three shopping malls in Spain and Portugal via its fourth European fund on behalf of its pan European retail platform, Multi Corporation, for a price approaching €500 million.

The properties have been bought from Commerz Real, a subsidiary of Germany’s Commerzbank.

In a statement today, both parties highlighted different elements to the transaction. Jaap Blokhuis, chief executive officer of Multi, said the assets were all of “high-quality” and were originally developed by Multi. He added that the properties could be improved further. Meanwhile, Eduardo Moran, management board member at Commerz Real responsible for the transaction said, “In view of considerable interest in such properties on the part of investors, we have acted at a point in time that was ideal from a strategic stance.” He added, “The markets in Spain and Portugal are recently recovering to a considerable degree, consumer demand is stable, and the three shopping centers are very well established.”

The three assets in question are the Almada Forum, in Lisbon, Forum Montijo also in Lisbon, and Espacio Leon in northern Spain. Blackstone acquired shares in Commerz Real’s CG Malls Europe Fund in order to execute the deal. The centers will be added to Multi’s current portfolio of 25 owned and managed properties already operated in Spain and Portugal.

According to a report by Bloomberg in May 2012, Commerz Real tried once before to sell the centers, with Unibail-Rodamco cited as the potential acquirer. The report mentioned the price negotiated was around €500 million. The report continued: “Commerzbank plans to sell all three assets owned by CG Malls Europe, in which it owns a majority stake, to shrink the bank’s balance sheet and cut its property-loan book. The company’s Eurohypo AG real-estate lending unit was the main lender for the three properties. The owners of the remaining minority stakes in CG Malls Europe are two Dutch pension funds and an unidentified UK-based investor.”

Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe IV is the firm’s latest opportunistic fund for the region that has €5.1 billion of equity commitments following a top-up equity fundraise that occurred in the final quarter of 2014. It is the single largest pool of equity raised in a blind fund format for deployment in Europe seeking opportunistic returns.