Meyer Bergman buys 50% stake in UK shopping centre

The firm, which is yet to close its maiden fund, has bought a 50% stake in The Bentall Centre in London for £130m from Aviva. Meyer was reportedly close to finalising a deal last year for £105m.

Meyer Bergman, the retail property private equity real estate specialist, has acquired a 50 percent stake in the Bentall Centre shopping centre in London for £130 million (€143 million; $196 million).

The firm, which is chaired by Ton Meijer, the founder of Dutch shopping centre developer MAB Group, bought the centre from UK insurer Aviva.

The stake was reportedly put up for sale in 2007. At the end of last year Meyer Bergman was said to be closing in on a deal for £105 million, suggesting values have since rebounded.

In a statement, Meyer Bergman said it planned to add value to the 580,000 property via asset management initiatives in partnership with Aviva Investors Global Services. 

Markus Meijer, chief executive, said it was a rare opportunity to acquire an interest in a prime retail asset in one of the most affluent suburbs of London.

“We believe that despite the increases in value seen in the last quarter of 2009 and early 2010, the UK retail market still offers good value,” he added, “however, we have also started to see a number of good opportunities arising in Continental Europe and believe this trend will continue throughout 2010.”

German bank WestImmo loaned £82 million to make the acquisition. The loan is eligible for pfandbrief, the German covered bond market, even though it finances a 50 percent rather than a 100 percent interest in
the property traditionally required. The funding has also been structured to enable WestImmo to split the loan into senior and junior tranches.

Meyer Bergman was advised by Jones Day. WestImmo was advised by Allen & Overy.

Meyer Bergman has made one other acquisition for its incoming maiden fund – a shopping centre in Ukraine. The fund is expected to close later this year.