Plaza Centres joint venture to buy seven U.S. malls

LONDON (Reuters) - Property developer Plaza Centres N.V. PLAZ.L said its U.S. joint venture has signed an agreement to acquire seven U.S. shopping centres for $75 million (48 million pounds) from affiliates of Charter Hall Retail real estate investment trust.

Plaza Centres said EPN Investment Management, a joint venture with its parent Elbit Imaging Ltd EMIT.TA, and Eastgate Property LLC and its affiliate, had agreed to buy four shopping centres in Georgia, two in Oregon and one in Florida, with a total gross lettable area of about 650,000 sq ft and a current occupancy rate of about 91 percent.

Net operating income from the seven malls, whose major tenants include Albertsons, Safeway Inc SWY.N, Trader Joe's and Marshalls, totalled about $7 million per year, reflecting a yield of approximately 9.2 percent, the company said on Wednesday.

It also said that of the purchase price, $22.7 million would be paid by way of assuming property level debt.

It said the malls would be held under a new joint venture formed by Plaza, Elbit Imaging, Eastgate Property or its affiliate and EPN Real Estate Fund LP, which is a U.S-based international fund formed by Elbit, Plaza and Eastgate.

Ran Shtarkman, Plaza Centres president and chief executive, said it was the company’s second U.S. transaction in 2010.

“This portfolio acquisition will offer us additional exposure to high quality retail assets in the U.S. and is a further step towards fulfilling our strategy of becoming a major investor in U.S. retail real estate assets.”

Plaza Centres N.V is a shopping centre developer with a focus on central and eastern Europe as well as with operations in India and the United States.

Reporting by Karen Foster; Editing by Louise Heavens