Tuesday 17 January 2017

Simon Group eyes up €1bn Dundrum

US billionaire owns Indiana Pacers

Published 31/05/2015 | 02:30

Others thought to be interested in Dundrum include shopping centre giants Hammerson, Intu and Westfield
Others thought to be interested in Dundrum include shopping centre giants Hammerson, Intu and Westfield

Herbert Simon's Simon Property Group, the biggest shopping centre owner in the US, has run the rule over Dundrum Town Centre as the sale of loans attached to Nama's single most valuable asset begins.

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Simon Group and several other publicly listed international shopping centre groups are understood to have visited the 1.3m square foot site or expressed interest in the sale.

The group is the biggest shopping centre owner in the US, founded by Herbert and brother Melvin in 1960. Real estate magnate Herbert, the company's chairman emeritus, has a net worth of $2.8bn (€2.5bn) according to Forbes - making him the world's 628th richest man. He is also the owner of US NBA team the Indiana Pacers.

Others thought to be interested in Dundrum include shopping centre giants Hammerson, Intu and Westfield.

Hammerson is a FTSE 100 company with retail assets across the UK and France valued at £7.7bn, including the Brent Cross Shopping Centre. Intu is also listed in London, as well as Johannesburg. It owns 18 UK shopping centres, including nine of the top 20, and three in Spain.

Westfield is listed in Australia. It owns 40 shopping centres including assets in London, New York, San Francisco and LA.

Hammerson and Simon declined to comment while Intu and Westfield did not respond to queries.

Sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms are also rumoured to be interested in acquiring the asset.

Commercial real estate advisor Eastdil Secured, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo, has been appointed to handle the sale of loans attached to Dundrum.

The shopping centre was developed by Liam Maye (who died in 2008), John Fitzsimons and Joe O'Reilly of Chartered Land. O'Reilly and Maye each had a 40pc interest while Fitzsimons had 20pc until loans attached to the asset were taken over by Nama during the financial crisis.

Nama made the unusual move of buying up all other debt attached to the centre as well, purchasing loans held by Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland.

Dundrum is not the only asset up for grabs in the sale of 'Project Jewel', so named because the shopping centre is the jewel in Nama's crown.

A 50pc stake in the Pavilions shopping centre in Swords, which Irish Life and I-PUT each own a quarter of, is being sold, as well as a 50pc stake in the Ilac shopping centre in Dublin city centre, which is also co-owned by Irish Life.

A land site near the Ilac is has also been packaged into 'Project Jewel'. Prior to the crash it was earmarked for a large retail scheme anchored by John Lewis. A land site next to Dundrum Town Centre which was earmarked for the extension of the shopping hub is also included.

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