Meyer Bergman completes maiden fund

The European retail private equity real estate firm has increased its stake in Polish shopping centre, Galeria Katowicka, thus completing its investment programme for Meyer Bergman European Retail Partnership I. At the same time, it has announced an investment for its second fund.

Meyer Bergman has reached a milestone for its maiden private equity real estate fund having made a final investment for the vehicle.

The London-based pan European retail specialist revealed today it had upped its stake in the Galeria Katowika shopping centre in southern Poland to more than 70 percent.

In a statement, the company explained how this marked the final commitment for Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners I – the firm’s maiden vehicle since the company was established in 2004. The other investments include Aladdin shopping center in Kyiv, Ukraine, The Bentall Centre, The Burlington Arcade, as well as The Exchange in London, plus Forum Nova Karolina and Forum Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic.

Meyer Bergman first announced its interest in the Galeria Katowika in December 2010 when it revealed it had teamed up with Spain’s Neinver to develop the €200 million centre. Katowice is the main commercial hub of the southern Poland region of Silesia with approximately 330,000 inhabitants within a 10-minute drive and more than 2.3 million people within a 30-minute drive time.

In the announcement today, Meyer Bergman said it has taken its ownership in the project to beyond 70 per cent now that the first phase of development – a new railway station – was complete. Phase one concluded on 29 October while phase two, the redevelopment of the bus terminus, is due to complete in the first quarter of 2013. The final phase, which comprises a 250-store modern shopping centre with over 48,000 square metres of gross lettable area, is slated to be completed in late 2013.

Markus Meijer, chief executive and founder of Meyer Bergman, said the decision to increase its stake in Galeria Katowicka underlined the company’s belief in the Polish market, whose economy has continued to outperform those of the Eurozone and the wider Central and Eastern Europe region. “Moreover, with the first phase of the development compete, the project has become significantly de-risked, giving us confidence that this prime retail centre is well placed to deliver solid returns for our investors,” he said.

The final commitment from its maiden fund comes as the firm continues to raise its second vehicle. PERE revealed in June this year how the firm had raised €130 million towards its €500 million target for Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners II – or MBERP II for short.

Indeed, just last week, the firm said it had struck an agreement to make an investment for that second fund. It has agreed to acquire an interest in a shopping centre development in Bradford, UK, from Australia’s Westfield Group, which will develop the asset. For this deal, Meyer Bergman has teamed up with two major Canadian pension funds, healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan Trust Fund and another co-investor in MBERP II.

The transaction is subject to the commencement of the 550,000 square foot Bradford development, which is expected to occur in the second half of 2013.