LONDON, March 20 The real estate arm of Allianz is paying about 375 million euros ($483.2 million) for its 50 percent stake in a joint shopping malls venture with an Austrian property company, a source close to the deal said.
Allianz, whose 21.8 billion euros of property under management includes the Porta di Roma mall in Rome and the Europa Passage shopping centre in Hamburg, had announced the tie-up earlier this month but did not disclose the price.
The venture is worth about 750 million euros in total, the source said, and is likely to be one of this year's largest retail property deals.
Europe's largest shopping malls have weathered the European retail sector's problems better than many town centres and smaller malls because of their dominant position in local catchment areas.
Allianz's joint venture with developer SES Spar European Shopping Centers will control seven European shopping malls. Austria's biggest mall developer will use the funds to expand its portfolio of 26 malls in Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The deal is due to complete in July.
Allianz described the unnamed malls, which are located in Austria, Slovenia and Italy, as being located in established retail locations with good transport links.
SES will continue to manage the sites.
A spokesman for Allianz declined to comment on the 750 million euro figure.
SES malls include La Brentelle in Padua, Citypark in Slovenian capital Ljubljana and Q19 in Vienna, according to the company's website.
Property experts say shopping malls will have to evolve to maintain their appeal amid Europe's economic difficulties and the rise of online shopping.
Their landlords will have to provide services that cannot be replicated on the web, like health centres, to survive the online onslaught, property experts told Reuters at the MIPIM real estate event in Cannes, France, last week.
The real estate arm of insurer Axa, which manages 43 billion euros of assets, said 90 percent of forecast retail sales growth in Britain, France and Germany between 2012 and 2016, or 91.5 billion euros, is expected to be online. ($1 = 0.7760 euros) (Editing Jane Barrett and David Holmes)