The property covering 63,500 sq m gross lettable area (‘GLA’) was sold by Multi Veste 339 B.V., which is an entity ultimately owned by Blackstone-managed funds (“Blackstone”).
The acquisition represents one of the biggest single asset shopping center transactions by value in Europe and the largest in CEE in 2022. The deal was funded from NEPI Rockcastle’s cash resources and credit facilities, and it is accretive to its distributable earnings. This transaction follows the company’s acquisition of the 48,000 sq m GLA Copernicus Shopping Center in Toruń, north-central Poland, for 127 million Euro, announced in November, which became effective on 19 December 2022, after the Polish Competition Council’s approval.
Rüdiger Dany, NEPI Rockcastle’s CEO, said: “Forum Gdańsk represents a compelling investment opportunity. We strongly believe in retail real estate and its positive outlook, despite concerns over the macroeconomic context and potential slowdown as a result of rising inflation and interest rates. We are long-term investors and are confident that fundamentally Central and Eastern Europe is a region that will continue to outperform economically relative to Western Europe in the future. Poland, the second largest market for the Group’s operations, has had a GDP growth rate that has been consistently, year by year, outpacing the EU average over the last decade. One of the particularities of CEE retail markets relative to Western Europe is that the shopping center sector plays a central role in the economic and community development of cities because the retail ‘High Street’ didn’t evolve in the post-war socialist period as it did in the west. Forum Gdańsk, with its striking architecture and dominant position in the center of the city, is the epitome of this type of CEE shopping center trophy asset for all the best reasons.”
Forum Gdańsk covers a six-hectare canal side location on the inner-city ring road and between the city’s two main railway stations, right next to the old town that attracts more than one million tourists each year. It has 1,100 parking spaces. Around a third of the site area consists of green planted spaces, where trees and shrubs offer a natural oasis within the urban environment.
The shopping center opened in 2018 and current occupancy is around 93% with anchor tenants including, Eurospar, Helios, H&M, Reserved, TK Maxx, Van Graaf and Zara. There are 840,000 people living within a 30-minute drive from the shopping center, within the ‘Tricity region’ (encompassing Gdańsk and the cities of Gdynia and Sopot), considered to be Poland’s northern economic powerhouse on the Baltic Sea coast.
Dany concluded: “The two acquisitions seal a very strong year for the Group, in which NEPI Rockcastle delivered on its growth strategy. The development pipeline of €665 million will provide organic expansion and acquisitions such as Forum Gdansk and Copernicus will enhance earnings, positioning the company to take center stage in the European retail property markets in the future.”
NEPI Rockcastle was advised by Linklaters and Blackstone by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Greenberg Traurig and CBRE.