GIC makes ₩270bn shopping mall investment

The Singaporean sovereign wealth fund is returning to the Korean property market with an investment in a shopping mall of Korean retailer and property owner Shinsegae Co.

The $285 billion Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC Private Limited has acquired a large shopping mall asset in Korea.

A spokeswoman for GIC confirmed that the state fund had struck a deal with Shinsegae Co, a shopping mall owner with ties to domestic conglomerate Samsung Group, but declined to confirm details of the transaction or name the specific mall. Local media have placed the deal size at around ?270 billion (€195 million; $267 million).

“GIC is confident in the long-term growth in Korea’s retail sector,” the GIC spokeswoman said. “We are glad to partner with Shinsegae, one of the top retail players in Korea.”

Shinsegae both owns malls to lease out and also runs its own department stores and hypermarkets under the Shinsegae brand. Listed on the Korea stock exchange, its most recent market cap was ?2.14 trillion.

GIC was one of the first institutional investors to break into Korea’s property sector, with one of its first investments being the ?355 billion acquisition of the Seoul Finance Center in 2000. Another prominent deal for the Singaporean fund was the purchase of the 2.3 million square foot Gangnam Finance Center, then called Star Tower, from private equity firm Lone Star for a reported ?900 billion in 2004. GIC still holds both assets.

Further afield, the past year has been particularly busy for GIC in the real estate space globally. In January, it purchased a 50 percent stake in London’s Broadgate office complex in a deal valued at £1.7 billion (€2.05 billion; $2.8 billion). In the same month it bought a majority stake in a A$150 million (€107 million; $139 million) student housing developer called Iglu in Sydney. Last year, it also made outlays in India and Indonesia.

And most recently, PERE reported in April that GIC was circling in on a ¥130 billion (€912 million; $1.25 billion) deal for the Arco Tower and Meguro Gajoen complex, an office-led complex in the Meguro ward of Tokyo. Once closed, it would be one of the largest single asset real estate transactions in Japan since the global financial crisis.