Hammerson and Dutch pensions group APG have each acquired over 3% stake in VIA Outlets, and now hold a 50% stake each in the €1.6bn premium outlet business.

The UK real estate investment trust and APG have bought the shares for €32m each former operating partners Value Retail and Meyer Bergman.

VIA Outlets partnership was formed in 2014 to acquire and manage existing outlet centres across Europe. Under the leadership of its operating partners, it has grown its portfolio to 11 centres across nine European countries in leading tourist locations.

As part of the changes to the partnership, Otto Ambagtsheer, formerly the COO of VIA Outlets, has been named CEO.

Ambagtsheer said: “APG and Hammerson have long standing interests in the premium outlet sector and their additional investment enables us to turn VIA Outlets into a self-managed and independent operating organisation.

“This will ensure the outstanding performance at VIA Outlets is maintained, enabling us to continue to substantially outperform the wider retail market.”

David Atkins, CEO of Hammerson, said: ”The management team at VIA Outlets has a clear strategy to attract new brands and deliver further extensions which will capitalise on the increased spending we are seeing in the market, and the low online penetration in this sector.

“This transaction also streamlines the ownership structure of VIA Outlets, and enhances the governance of this strategically important business unit.”

Robert Jan Foortse, head of private real estate at APG said: “This transaction marks the beginning of the next phase of VIA Outlets, a business that we have started 5 years ago.

”We and Hammerson are very grateful for all the support that Value Retail and Meyer Bergman have provided to VIA Outlets over the past period, which has been instrumental to the success that VIA Outlets has become.