Retail property deals stall across Europe

A string of shopping centre and retail park transactions are stalling across Europe as coronavirus lockdowns require shops to close.

Blackstone has been in discussions with Allianz for months to sell Forum Palermo for €200 mln but the deal has fallen through. One of the largest malls in the Sicilian city, the asset provides more than 48,000 m2 of gross lettable area over 124 shops and 2,500 parking spaces.

The US investment giant is also understood to have paused the marketing of Spanish Espacio Leon, a shopping centre which was put up for sale late last year.

In Italy, one of the countries hit hardest hit by the pandemic, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC is also thought to have put the sale of Roma Est on hold. One of Italy’s largest shopping centres it had been on the market through Eastdil for a year in a process valued at over €400 mln.

In the UK, BlackRock is believed to have paused the sale of a £160 mln portfolio of five retail parks which it was marketing through Savills.

Meanwhile, debt-laden UK retail REIT Intu revealed today that the impact of the pandemic is delaying the sale of intu Puerto Venecia, one of two Spanish shopping centres it put up for sale to raise cash.

‘The impact of COVID-19 in Europe is delaying certain regulatory approvals in relation to the disposal of intu Puerto Venecia and we now expect the £95 mln proceeds to be received in the middle of May at the earliest’, a statement said.

Market sources say that the buyers - Union Investment and Generali - are experiencing a delay in obtaining the go-ahead from EU competition authorities but that they are not backing off or seeking a repricing for the assets.

Union and Generali clubbed together in a 50:50 joint venture late last year to buy the asset for around €475 mln.