British Land sells stake in Spain's biggest mall to Orion Capital

LONDON Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:16am EDT

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LONDON Oct 17 (Reuters) - British Land has sold its stake in Spain's biggest mall to real estate firm Orion Capital Managers for 144.5 million euros ($194.95 million) in a withdrawal from Europe after its assets there lost a fifth of their value during the economic crisis.

The property developer said on Thursday it sold its 50 percent interest in the Puerto Venecia shopping centre and retail park in Zaragoza, northeast Spain, to Orion European Real Estate III. The latter already owns the other half of the 2.2 million square foot scheme.

"The disposal is in line with our strategy of exiting our European business and halves our European exposure to 1 percent," British Land's Head of Retail, Charles Maudsley, said.

The company said in 2006 the development would have a value of 500 million euros when completed. The retail park was completed in 2008 while the shopping centre opened in October last year.

In May, British Land said it wanted to sell its 255 million pound portfolio of retail properties in mainland Europe after the assets lost almost a fifth of their value on the back of the economic crisis in Spain and Portugal. It still owns a 65 percent share in continental European property fund PREF.

The deal also comes as British mall owner Intu Properties is looking to expand its Spanish footprint. It teamed up with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board earlier this month to buy a shopping centre in Oviedo, northern Spain.

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