Meadowhall success prompts British Land to hold on to stake

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PROPERTY giant British Land is to hang on to its 50 per cent stake in Meadowhall because of the shopping centre’s strong performance over the past year, according to reports.

The group, which had planned to sell 25 per cent of the centre, has instead opted to retain its full share as the Sheffield site remains a rare strong performer amid a weak retail sector.

It plans to form a joint venture with Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which is buying the other half of Meadowhall from London & Stamford Property (L&S) and its Middle Eastern partner Green Park Investments.

British Land and L&S declined to comment.

In July, L&S said the centre “continues to perform well” despite the tough economy. Footfall at Meadowhall was up 0.4 per cent for the year to the end of June and sales edged up 0.1 per cent.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) is said to be close to acquiring the stake, possibly as soon as next week.

Meadowhall has an occupancy rate of 97.4 per cent and annual rent of £83m, British Land said in May. The 1.5m sq ft centre was valued at £1.497bn in March.

British Land bought Meadowhall in 1999 for £1.17bn and sold a 50 per cent stake to L&S and its Middle Eastern partner for £588m in 2009.

Other parties reported to have been looking at Meadowhall included Canadian Pension Plan, Chinese Investment Corporation and a Singaporean sovereign wealth fund.

Large UK shopping centres in prime locations such as Meadowhall are highly prized by property investors after weathering the tough retail climate relatively well.

Meadowhall was built by Yorkshire entrepreneurs Eddie Healey and Paul Sykes in 1990 on the site of a former steelworks.