Germany's Otto family sets up new shopping centre fund

FRANKFURT, March 11 Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:57am EDT

FRANKFURT, March 11 (Reuters) - Germany's Otto family are setting up a new 800 million euro ($1.1 billion) fund to invest in shopping centres across Europe, Alexander Otto told German business daily Handelsblatt.

The Otto Group is one of Germany's best known retailers and posted sales of 11.8 billion euros for its 2012/13 business year. It says it is the world's second-largest internet retailer behind Amazon.com.

Alexander Otto is the youngest son of founder Werner Otto, who died in 2011 at the age of 102. He manages ECE, which runs 195 shopping centres in 17 countries.

With an estimated value of $9 billion, ECE represents about half of the family's fortune, according to Forbes. The Otto family are number 42 in the Forbes rich list with a net worth of $18.4 billion.

ECE's first fund, now fully invested, was focused on eastern Europe. The new one, aimed at institutional investors, will look more at southern Europe, including Italy and Spain and is also interested in Turkey, Alexander Otto told Handelsblatt.

"Despite the fragile economic and political situation, the medium-term chances for Turkey are very good," he told the paper. "Population trends are good, the middle class is growing. Therefore we will continue to invest."

The company on Monday announced a 240 million euro deal to buy half of a Brazilian shopping centre joint venture from U.S. group DDR Corp. The joint venture owns two-thirds of listed shopping centre operator Sonae Sierra Brasil.

($1 = 0.7205 euros) (Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Mark Potter)

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