Liberty sells 40% stake of its MetroCentre shopping centre

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Liberty International sold a 40 per cent stake of its MetroCentre shopping centre in Gateshead today to the Singapore government, valuing the property at more than £1 billion.

Liberty said that GIC, the investment arm of the city state of Singapore, would buy the stake from Capital Shopping Centre, its subsidiary, for £426 million, valuing CSC's interest at £1.07 billion.

The MetroCentre in Gateshead, which originally opened in 1986, is the UK's top regional shopping centre and is Europe's largest covered retail and leisure centre.

CSC, which also owns Lakeside shopping centre, owns a 90 per cent economic interest in MetroCentre.

Under the deal, CSC will continue to manage MetroCentre, which it acquired in 1995, Liberty said.The 1.8 million sq ft centre has more than 330 shops and is visited by more than 24 million shoppers a year.

Commenting on the transaction, Sir Robert Finch, chairperson of Liberty International PLC, said, "We are delighted to welcome GIC Real Estate as a strategic long term partner in one of our flagship assets, the MetroCentre in Gateshead.We firmly believe that GIC Real Estate holds similar investment values to Liberty International and we look forward to working with it closely in the future.

"The proceeds of this transaction will enable Liberty International to continue to expand its overall business which includes a £1 billion development programme," he added.

Dr Seek Ngee Huat, the president of GIC RE said, "GIC RE invests in a wide range of property sectors around the world, and this investment is an excellent addition to our global portfolio of retail properties such as our interests in Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, UK, Roma Est in Rome, Italy, Sunway Pyramid Mall in Malaysia, and Queen Victoria Building in Australia."

Completion of the transaction is subject to landlord consent and certain other conditions which are expected to be satisfied shortly.

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