The sale price represents a 5% discount to the December 2017 book value. The transaction comes after a successful standard EU competition clearance and arrangement of a five-year £165.2m loan by the joint venture. Hammerson’s share in that loan is £82.6m.
The loan is secured on Highcross on a non-recourse basis and the facility is repayable in full at maturity in February 2024.
Hammerson is expected to use the net proceeds from the sale to reduce drawings under its credit facilities and reduce net debt. The £82.6m proceeds from Hammerson’s 50% share of the loan will also be used to reduce drawings under revolving credit facilities with no impact to its net debt.
David Atkins, chief executive of Hammerson, said: “We are pleased to have attracted a respected investor who shares our future vision for Highcross. The recent leasing momentum demonstrates that brands continue to open new stores, however the location has to be right, with only the best destinations making the cut.
“We don’t see this changing anytime soon, and a vibrant brand line-up with the ability to ensure constant variety is fundamental to Highcross’ success as a flagship venue.”
John Duxbury, head of retail and leisure, M&G Real Estate added: “We are very pleased to have worked with Hammerson on this. Whilst the retail sector might have its challenges, prime assets in the right locations will be resilient to competition from e-commerce and will provide our investors with long term prospects for income and capital appreciation. With its strong line up of retail and leisure brands, we believe Highcross has a very exciting future.”