Gazit sells Atrium shares to Israeli investor duo

Israeli investor Gazit Globe is selling 18% of shares in shopping centre owner and developer Atrium European Real Estate as part of its recently announced move to take the listed company private.

Pension provider, Phoenix Excellence Pension and Provident Funds, is to acquire a 6% shareholding for €75 mln, while insurer Menora Mivtachim is taking 12% for €150 mln.

Gazit is selling the Atrium shares for the same price at which it has agreed to acquire them. Both buyers are headquartered in Israel.

Welcoming the transactions, Chaim Katzman, Gazit’s founder and CEO, said: ‘We're happy to announce today the joining of Phoenix to the strategic transaction of taking Atrium private. Phoenix is joining Menora Mivtachim and both are expected to hold together approximately 18% of Atrium's outstanding shares. We're happy to see two leading Israeli institutional investors join as partners in one of our most significant investments.’

In July, Gazit announced it was offering €3.75 a share for around 150 million Atrium shares, or 40% of the company’s outstanding share capital, in a deal valued at €565 mln. Gazit was already a majority shareholder in the company, owning 60% of shares.

Atrium focuses on Central and Eastern Europe, with 34 shopping centres in the region worth around €3 bn, 85% of which derives from assets in Poland and Czech Republic, with the remainder in Slovakia and Russia.

Explaining the move to buy up the remaining 40% of Atrium shares, Katzman told PropertyEU the transaction was made appealing by the slide in Atrium’s share price compared to its net asset value. Investor fears about the impact of e-commerce and global headwinds affecting the retail trade have seen Atrium’s share price sink by 16% over the last year.

‘There is no doubt that there is a negative sentiment towards retail stocks in Europe right now,’ said Katzman. ‘But we believe that Atrium’s assets are resilient and have potential for future growth – even if we are alone in that thinking. We hope we’re not wrong.’

The full article appears in the September issue of PropertyEU

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