$400m in sales puts Australasian shopping centres back in focus

The DFO near Brisbane Airport. Shopping centres are again attracting buyer interest. Picture: Steve Pohlner
The DFO near Brisbane Airport. Shopping centres are again attracting buyer interest. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Shopping centres are again attracting buyer interest with a ­series of deals in train that will see Lendlease funds sell more than $400 million worth of malls and outlets across Australasia change hands.

In the largest play, New Zealand funds manager Oyster is in pole position to buy a portfolio of factory outlet centres in NZ that was put on the block for about $NZ350 million ($334 million) by a fund run by Lendlease.

The race for the much sought-after DFO portfolio is also thought to have also attracted the listed Vicinity Centres that teamed up with another NZ firm to bid for the centres, which are growing strongly and offering highly attractive yields.

A deal with Oyster could set benchmarks for the discount factory outlet sector. They have emerged among the top-performing local and international assets. Buying the Lendlease portfolio would give any incoming owner the chance to dominate the NZ sector.

Oyster launched in 2006 and combined with NZ group Prime Retail in 2010. It has grown to a property firm with assets under management of $NZ1.7 billion.

The Lendlease Real Estate Partners New Zealand trust put the assets on the block last year, pitching them as NZ’s premier retail portfolio. CBRE and Colliers International are managing the campaign, but declined to comment.

The portfolio includes outlet centres Dress Smart Onehunga, Auckland, and Dress Smart Hornby, Christchurch, together with Meridian Mall, a retail asset in Dunedin’s CBD.

The properties sport strong fundamentals, long-term financial performance and prime locations in each city.

Meanwhile, the Lendlease Sub-Regional Retail Fund has sold Armadale Shopping City in Western Australia to a private investor, with industry players saying Adelaide developer Nick DiMauro had secured the asset for about $110 million.

DiMauro controls about 25 malls in Australia through his private Angaet Holdings.

Lendlease Sub-Regional Retail Fund fund manager Matt Bowyer says the divestment of the asset is “consistent with the fund strategy to focus on strong performing subregional assets that provide a high degree of convenience within their surrounding community”.

Lendlease has been selling assets out of its $5 billion Australian Prime Property Fund Retail portfolio after it was hit by $2bn in redemption requests. The fund has already sold a half-stake in Westfield Marion in Adelaide to Singapore’s SPH REIT and is now looking to offload its half-stake in the $1.7bn Westfield Carindale.

This article originally appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au/property.