Plaza Centres goes shopping for US malls

Property developer Plaza Centres NV yesterday said its US joint venture had signed an agreement to acquire seven US shopping centres for $75m (£48m) from affiliates of the Charter Hall Retail real estate investment trust.

Plaza Centres said EPN Investment Management, a joint venture with its parent, Elbit Imaging, and Eastgate Property and its affiliate, had agreed to buy four malls in Georgia, two in Oregon and one in Florida, with a total gross lettable area of 650,000 sq ft and a current occupancy rate of about 91 per cent.

Net operating income from the seven centres, whose major tenants include Albertsons, Safeway Inc, Trader Joe's and Marshalls, totalled about $7m (4.5m) per year, reflecting a yield of approximately 9.2 per cent, the company said in a statement issued yesterday. It also said that, of the purchase price, $22.7m (14.7m) would be paid by way of assuming property level debt.

It said the malls would be held under a new joint venture formed by Plaza, Elbit Imaging, Eastgate Property or its affiliate and the EPN Real Estate Fund, a US-based international fund formed by Elbit, Plaza and Eastgate.

Plaza Centres president and chief executive Ran Shtarkman said it was the company's second US transaction in 2010.

He added: "This portfolio acquisition will offer us additional exposure to high-quality retail assets in the US and is a further step towards fulfilling our strategy of becoming a major investor in US retail real estate assets."

Plaza Centres NV is a shopping centre developer with a focus on central and eastern Europe. It also has operations in India and the US.