NETHERLANDS - The €6bn property investment and management company Corio has decided to go ahead with divesting the major part of its offices and industrial portfolios, and to further focus on its retail activities.

The announced sell-off is in line with Corio's strategic focus on retail, which was set in 2000 when the company was established through the merger of Vastgoedfonds Institutionele Beleggers (VIB) and Winkel Beleggingen Nederland (WBN), spokeswoman Francine Zijlstra stressed.

Corio's offices and industrial portfolios total €875m and €231m respectively last summer, and represent 81% of the company's assets at present. The occupancy rates were 90.4% and 97.5% respectively last summer.

"Retail investments generate a much more stable cash-flow, and therefore much more added value, than offices. The interests of owner and tenants of shopping centres are more parallel."

"Tenants depend on the reputation of a shopping centre, while office tenants tend to move if they can find a cheaper or higher quality building nearby. The offices and industrial market are therefore more cyclical," she explained.

According to Zijlstra, the portfolios in Corio's main regional bases, in the Netherlands and France, will be sold as separate office and industrial packages in each country.

However, parts of the office and industrial portfolios which are closely related to retail, such as the offices in shopping centre Hoog Catharijne in Utrecht and Alexandria in Rotterdam - of which Corio is the main owner - will be excluded from the sale, she said.

Planned sales will include Corio's Paris-based office building Le Newton. Earlier this year, the company announced an €120m plan to redevelop and enlarge it into a high quality complex of 42,000 m2, leading to an almost fourfold increase of the office space.

"Given the equilibrium between supply and demand, the current positive office market developments will continue in the next few years," Corio pointed out then.

According to Corio in July, the value of the combined office and industrial portfolios in the Netherlands was approximately €750m. The combined portfolios in France total €326m.

During the first nine months, Corio's overall like-for-like net rental growth was 5.6%, of which 6.4% for its retail portfolio.

Its fixed pipeline contained almost  €1.1bn of project at the third quarter's end, while the overall pipeline remained stable at €2.1bn.

Corio is an investor and manager of retail centres in mainly the Netherlands and France, but also has holdings in Italy, Spain, Turkey and Germany.

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