AXA Real Estate Investment Managers, on behalf of its clients, is to acquire a 50 per cent stake in Cabot Circus, Quakers Friars area, in Bristol for GBP267.8 million from Land Securities which owns the asset through a 50:50 joint venture with Hammerson.
The completion of the acquisition is subject to EU merger control notification.
Cabot Circus is a 1.37 million sq ft (127,277 sq m) shopping centre comprising retail, catering, leisure, car parking, residential, hotel and student accommodation. It is the prime retail core of Bristol city centre and one of the UK’s top 20 shopping centres.
Cabot Circus, which opened in September 2008, was one of the largest retail-led city centre urban regeneration projects in the UK. The shopping centre has a residential catchment population of 2.4 million and recorded an annual footfall of 18.2 million visitors in 2013.
The acquisition is directly in line with AXA Real Estate’s belief that large format multi-channel retail outlets, such as shopping centres that incorporate leisure and entertainment facilities, can be largely insulated from the structural changes to the retail market that the shift to online retailing and changing consumer behaviour has brought about. The acquisition is demonstrative of AXA Real Estate’s active approach to retail opportunities in 13 European countries, with EUR8.4 billion of retail assets under management (as at the end of March 2014) including over 30 shopping centres.
Hammerson is retaining its 50 per cent stake in Cabot Circus and will take over the management of the centre encompassing property and asset management, leasing and marketing. AXA Real Estate will have a strategic asset management role on behalf of its clients.
Martin Perrott, senior transaction manager at AXA Real Estate, says: “Together with Hammerson, we believe that we will be able to enhance the centre through the introduction of more catering in order to adapt to changing consumer habits and multi-channel retailing, enabling us to continue to add value for our clients.”
Peter Cole, Hammerson chief investment officer, says: “Cabot Circus is a high-quality retail destination which, since we completed the development in 2008, has secured iconic domestic and international brands and transformed Bristol’s retail offer. The centre has the potential to further strengthen its position by capitalising on structural retail trends and adapting the tenant mix. We are therefore excited about taking on the asset management role and delighted to be partnering with AXA Real Estate.”