LONDON Aug 9 Norway's sovereign wealth fund is
close to buying a majority stake worth upwards of 1.1 billion
pounds ($1.7 billion) in the Meadowhall shopping mall in
Sheffield, 165 miles north of London, which is being jointly
sold by London & Stamford and British Land, a
source close to the deal said.
The $610-billion sovereign wealth fund, the world's second
largest after the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, will buy a 75
percent share in the 1.4 million square foot mall, marking its
second UK property investment since it invested 448 million
pounds into London's Regent Street in 2010.
Barring any last minute obstacles, the deal should complete
within "days not weeks" the source told Reuters.
British Land will retain a 25 percent share in Meadowhall,
which it valued at 1.42 billion pounds at its annual results in
May, and will retain management of the site, two other sources
familiar with the sale told Reuters. The 21 year-old shopping
centre is the company's third biggest property by value.
British Land bought Meadowhall in 1999 for 1.17 billion
pounds and sold a 50 percent stake to London & Stamford and a
Middle Eastern partner for 588 million pounds in 2009. The two
companies and Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages
the sovereign wealth fund, declined to comment
Other parties reported to have been looking at Meadowhall
included Canadian Pension Plan, Chinese Investment Corporation,
and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Government Investment
Meadowhall, along with Capital Shopping Centre's
Metrocentre in Gateshead, was part of the first wave of British
mega-malls built in the 1990s.
Large UK shopping centres that dominate their catchment area
like Meadowhall are highly prized by property investors as they
have so far managed to weather the tough retailing climate
better than the rest of the UK.