FRANCE/NETHERLANDS - A three-way joint venture involving Dutch pension fund ABP has acquired Cap 3000, a Nice shopping centre, for €450m.

ABP, which is managed by APG Investments, acquired the asset together with shopping centre operator Altarea and Crédit Agricole Assurances' subsidiary Predica through a vehicle called AltaBlue, set up for the purpose with each partner holding an equal share.

ABP and Predica also each contributed €200m of equity, with a bank loan making up the difference.

Asked about the bank debt, Robert-Jan Foortse, head of non-listed European property investments at APG, said: "Why not? It is only moderate level of leverage and it adds to our returns."

AltaBlue acquired the asset via its current owner, Aldeta, a listed subsidiary of Galeries LaFayette, which launched a tender process in February.

Foortse suggested that more assets were coming onto the market via equity tenders rather than straightforward property investments. "That's just how it happened in this case and it's happening more often, in most cases for tax planning reasons," he said. "More broadly, we are indirect property investors, so don't invest directly in property, hence we will always look for an operational partner."

Although there is some rental upside, the centre needs refurbishment and the investors could expand it in future. "The asset has been there for 40 years. It's a proven shopping centre but it's also slightly dated," said Foortse. "Generally, we're looking at all shopping centres. They don't have to be in need of redevelopment."

He added: "It's a rare opportunity when a centre of this quality comes onto the market. We're interested in the retail sector in terms of its long-term risk and return characteristics. There are probably some specific markets where we wouldn't want to invest in shopping centres, but our interest is, broadly speaking, global."