Blackstone Australia has placed its entire Australian retail platform of 10 shopping centres on the market – with a price tag of AUD3.5bn (€2.5bn).
It is understood that Blackstone made presentations to prospective investors late last week, and industry sources told IPE Real Estate that a data room will open next week for due diligence.
Blackstone declined to comment.
It is the largest single portfolio of direct property assets ever offered in Australia.
Three-quarters of the assets are located on Australia’s populous eastern seaboard.
Industry sources said the portfolio is expected to attract keen interest from offshore and domestic investors.
One source said: “The attraction of this portfolio is the fact that its focus is on convenience and non-discretionary spending, with a big emphasis on fresh food and casual dining.”
The source believes the offering is likely to appeal to long-term owners of retail assets, sovereign wealth funds and pension groups from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.
It has also been suggested that local groups with strong retail platforms, such as AMP Capital, Lend Lease and the Charter Hall Group, could be interested in partnering foreign investors to secure more shopping centres to boost their own fund management businesses.
Although Blackstone has repositioned many of the centres since taking ownership, there still remains upside potential through further refining of the tenant mix, according to one source.
Blackstone launched its Australian retail platform in 2012 when it acquired what is known as the Top Ryde Shopping Centre in Sydney for AUD341m.
A source said Top Ryde had been transformed to benefit from rapid expansion of its residential catchment area and surrounding commercial and university traffic.
Most of the other assets were bought more recently. In May last year, Blackstone bought four shopping malls for AUD840m from Vicinity Centres.
This followed the purchase of Rundle Place Mall in the business heart of Adelaide, capital of South Australia, in January 2016 for AUD400m.
Three of the Blackstone centres are located in New South Wales, four in Victoria, two in Queensland and one in South Australia.
Each is anchored by one or both of Australia’s largest supermarket chains, Coles or Woolworths, and other groups, such as German retailer Aldi.
Asked why the US investor is selling so soon after acquisition, another source said: “It is typical of Blackstone to hold assets for around four years. They bought Top Ryde more than four years ago.”
To handle the sale, Blackstone has appointed real estate consultancy JLL, led by Simon Rooney, together with UBS Australia, led by Tim Church, and JP Morgan, led by Rob Stanton.
It is understood that JLL was appointed because of its experience in selling shopping centres, and UBS for establishing a record price of AUD2.45bn for a direct property transaction with the sale of the Investa property fund to China Investment Corporation in 2015.
JP Morgan might be able to offer financing packages to potential buyers, if needed.
Expressions of interest will close on May 18. Those shortlisted are expected to submit their second bids by the third week of July.