Written on the 10 May 2016 by Nick Nichols


MIRVAC Group (ASX:MGR) has snared Brisbane's Toombul Shopping Centre for $233.3 million as part of a near $1 billion asset sell-off by its long-time owner Vicinity Centres (ASX:VCX).

The 44,000sqm centre has been a part of the Brisbane retail landscape for almost 50 years, undergoing significant upgrades in that time, and Mirvac wants to change it up again with plans for a new dining and entertainment precinct to meet a changing demographic in the city's inner north.

The sale of Toombul has been secured along with a $613.3 million disposal of three other retail centres by Vicinity to private equity group Blackstone.

The three centres comprise Clifford Gardens in Toowoomba, and Forest Hill Chase and Brimbank Shopping Centre in Victoria.

These deals come on the heels of Vicinity last week securing the sale of Indooroopilly Central in Brisbane to a private investor for $85 million.

Vicinity, formed last year through the $11 billion merger of Federation Centres and Novion Property, had previously indicated it was selling up to $1 billion in assets to focus on earnings-accretive investments in the property market.

"In a little over three months since we started marketing the first tranche of our divestment program, we have made substantial progress in reshaping the portfolio and have achieved this at favourable pricing with transactions agreed totalling $926.4 million," says Vicinity's CEO Angus McNaughton.

The combined sales by Vicinity have been struck at a 1 per cent premium to book value, with Vicinity saying the second tranche of sales it is planning will also be worth about $1 billion.

While Vicinity plans to focus on a number of new projects, including the development of a new DFO outlet with Perth Airport Pty Ltd, Mirvac says it will immediately take steps to improve the tenant mix at Toombul.

"Our focus for the centre in the short term will be to improve car park convenience and enhance the retail offer to better align with changing trade area demographic," says Mirvac's head of retail Susan MacDonald.

"Over the medium-to-long term, we will look to deliver a new entertainment offering and dining precinct, using our proven integrated retail development capability.

"This acquisition increases our exposure to the greater Brisbane market, and follows our recent successful expansions at both Kawana and Orion Springfield.

"We were extremely pleased to work alongside our existing capital partner, Blackstone Real Estate Asia, to secure this new opportunity."

Toombul, located on a 9.8ha site, has a moving annual turnover of $234.1 million with current occupancy sitting at 92.8 per cent.

The centre was originally acquired by Federation Centres, formerly Centro Property Group, in 2003.

The sale to Mirvac is expected to settle in the last quarter of FY16.

Author: Nick Nichols





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