Slovak Developer J&T Wins Bid for Acquisition of GranCasa and Two Other Shopping Centres

7 August 2018

The Bratislava-based firm has allied itself with Sonae in the acquisition of the Zaragoza complex and others in Bilbao and Santander.

The Slovak real estate firm J&T is preparing for its arrival in Spain with the purchase of three shopping centres, including GranCasa, Zaragoza, in an operation with the Portuguese group Sonae Sierra, estimated at 500 million euros. Sources in the sector confirmed yesterday that J&T, in alliance with Sonae, had outbid the German company ECE for the three complexes and that it will finalise its purchase of the portfolio after completing the corresponding due diligence. The assets also include the Max Center in Bilbao and the Valle Real in Santander.

Sonae, under pressure by its partner in the three centres, CBRE Global Investors, was obligated to sell, though maintaining its intention of continuing to hold a stake. The newspaper Expansión reported yesterday that the Bratislava-based J&T owns 90% of the joint venture created for the purpose with Sonae, while Sonae owns the remaining 10%. Their proposal is said to value the portfolio at approximately 525 million euros, a figure that exceeds ECE’s competing bid. Sonae declined to issue a statement regarding the potential acquisition, limiting itself to saying that “we only discuss finalised transactions.”

The Portuguese group Sonae Sierra took over 50% of GranCasa in 2002, five years after its inauguration, and has been responsible for its management since 2003. The shopping centre located in the Actur, Zaragoza, has more than 200,000 square meters, 80,000 of which are for commercial activity where 170 stores are in operation. There is also a Hipercor, which is not included in the transaction.

GranCasa recently underwent a 12-million-euro investment in a new leisure and restaurant area, which was inaugurated in June. The new space, which measures 10,132 square meters, increased the mall’s offerings to a total of 21 restaurants and five kiosks, complementing existing leisure facilities that include a cinema and gym. The shopping mall’s managers noted that major restaurant chains are or will be maintaining a presence there, including VIPs Smart, Gino’s, The Strad Club, KFC, Muerde la Pasta, Fran Beer and Frutolandia, among others.

Referring to that investment, Alexandre Pessegueiro, head of Asset Management at Sonae Sierra, said GranCasa’s new leisure and restaurant area “is a clear example of how to anticipate changes in consumer models in a sector such as restaurants, in which customers demand an increasing level of differentiation and quality.”

The other two complexes included in the transaction are Max Center, a shopping centre that opened in Bilbao in 1997, and which underwent remodelling in 2000. The shopping mall tenants include Inditex, H&M, Cortefiel, Foster’s Hollywood and La Tagliattela. The centre also has a cinema (Cinesa) and a leisure space next door, Max Ocio.

The third asset is Valle Real, a commercial centre in Santander that opened in 1994 and that in addition to having some of the above brands as tenants, also has a hypermarket of the French chain Carrefour.

The Buyers

J&T Real Estate is a well-regarded Slovak real estate company that has 21 years of experience. The company is headquartered in Bratislava, has 300 employees and a presence in five countries.

Sonae Sierra, which will hold onto 10% of the group, provides services to investors and develops real estate projects anchored in the retail sector. It owns more than 40 shopping centres with a market value of around 7 billion euros and has 83 managed and/or leased shopping centres with 2.5 million square meters of gross leasable area and about 9,300 stores. Sonae currently works with more than 20 co-investors and joint ventures, associating with operators and fund managers for each venture.

Original Story: Heraldo – Luis H. Menéndez

Photo: Guillermo Mestre

Translation: Richard Turner