REAL ESTATE - The Mars pension fund has sold a hefty retail portfolio in England’s northeast to Halladale for £15.25m (€22.5m).

The portfolio comprises much of a town centre in Cleveland, Teesside.

Halladale, which is backed by Kodak pension fund, will redevelop and refurbish the portfolio over three—four years. The firm said it would work closely with the local authority “to enhance the local retail environment”.

The yield on the transaction was 5.9%.

Elsewhere, the University of Westminster is seeking a joint venture partner to help it acquire a central London property through an off-market deal it describes as “tentative”.

The university plans to finance the deal by selling off a portfolio of long-lease or freehold properties broadly equivalent in size to the mooted acquisition.

The central London, which is on the point of coming to market, is located close to the university’s main campus. Those the university has earmarked for divestment are mixed-use commercial and retail properties.

However, spokesman Andrew Rance said he held out little hope that the proposed acquisition – described as “sensitive” – would go ahead. “I doubt that it will progress, to be honest,” he said. “It’s a tentative toe in the water.”

With expected acquisition costs of between £60—100m, he said there would be no real benefit to the university in terms of additional space. “It’s just that it’s so close to what we have,” he said.

The partner will either acquire and develop the property on the university’s behalf or develop an existing site. The university has not provided firm financial plans either for the acquisition or the divestment. The tender notice said it was “receptive to innovative proposals” from bidders.