Norway’s Wealth Fund Set to Take Over Major UK Shopping Centre

Norway’s Wealth Fund Set to Take Over Major UK Shopping Centre

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, Norges, is poised to acquire a significant share in Meadowhall, a key shopping centre in Sheffield, enhancing its position in the UK retail sector. Norges is nearing a deal to buy out British Land’s 50% stake in the centre for around £363 million.

This strategic acquisition would place the total valuation of Meadowhall at approximately £725 million and is expected to yield a return of 7-8%. The move is seen as a strong indication of Norges’ confidence in the resilience and future profitability of top-tier retail locations across the UK.

The discussions, which are in their final stages, were triggered by British Land’s decision last September to sell its share. Although a partnership continuation with British Land seems the most likely outcome, Norges is also considering other potential buyers.

Under the proposed terms of the deal, British Land would maintain its role in managing the daily operations at Meadowhall, under the leadership of CEO Simon Carter. The shopping centre is home to a host of major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Zara, and Primark, adding to its appeal.

This isn’t Norges’ first venture in UK property; its portfolio includes substantial stakes in London’s West End, notably a 25% interest in Regent Street managed by The Crown Estate, and a 23.5% ownership in Covent Garden through Shaftesbury Capital. Furthermore, it shares ownership of the West One shopping centre with British Land.

Meadowhall has a storied history, developed on the site of a former steelworks by Yorkshire entrepreneurs Eddie Healey and Paul Sykes, and was sold to British Land in 1999 for £1.2 billion. Despite the challenges faced by the UK retail sector due to the rise of e-commerce and high business rates, Norges’ latest investment is seen as a testament to the enduring appeal of prime retail spaces.

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