LONDON May 22 Unibail Rodamco UNBP.PA has
bought almost half of Austria's biggest retail and leisure mall
for 607 million euros ($956.8 million), giving a 5 percent
In one of the biggest European commercial property
transactions since the onset of the credit crunch,
Unibail-Rodamco said on Thursday it bought 140,400 square metres
(1.51 million sq ft) in Shopping City Sued, to the south of
Vienna, from private family trust Hans Dujsik Privatstiftung.
However, Richard Bloxam, director of European retail capital
markets at vendor advisor Jones Lang LaSalle, played down the
deal's significance for broader mainland European property
markets, which are seen set to follow the UK down.
"One swallow does not make a summer," he told Reuters,
arguing the prime shopping centre sector was different to other
property sectors in that it was "not the territory of highly
leveraged buyers" and was dominated by experienced property
funds and property firms.
Bloxam said a report in December which cited a Jones Lang
LaSalle audit and said the sale of Shopping City Sued could have
raised up to 800 million euros was false.
He also said Unibail had scope to improve profits at the 32
year-old landmark mall because retail rents in Austria were
relatively low and because the firm also owned the rival Vienna
mall of Donau Zentrum, giving it a strong negotiating position
Unibail-Rodamco, Europe's largest listed property company,
said it was the single biggest shopping centre transaction in
the group's history.
Buying and selling of commercial property across Europe was
almost 40 percent lower in the first three months of 2008 than
in the same quarter of last year at 36.7 billion euros, Bloxam
He also said property transactions agreed in the second
quarter and completed in the third and fourth quarters would
probably be more indicative of the true underlying state of
broader European property valuations, which were likely to drift
(Reporting by William Kemble-Diaz; Editing by Sue Thomas)