US-based real estate manager Heitman has backed an Australian entity to buy a AUD178m (€113.5m) Melbourne shopping centre from Blackstone.

Heitman and Elanor Investors Group will hold the 39,554sqm Waverley Gardens shopping centre in a newly-created fund. The Waverley Gardens fund will have other investors, including domestic institutional and wholesale capital partners.

Elanor CEO, Glenn Willis, said: “This acquisition further highlights Elanor’s ability to identify high investment quality assets that represent excellent value for our capital partners and security-holders.”

Elanor’s co-head of real estate, Michael Baliva, said: “The retail investment market is currently presenting opportunities to acquire shopping centres with strong underlying real estate value.”

Baliva said Waverley Gardens was located on a significant site in Melbourne’s south-eastern growth corridor, the centre’s income substantially underpinned by non-discretionary-focussed retailers.

Blackstone bought the centre from Mirvac four years ago as part of an AUD826m portfolio. At the time the Waverley Gardens centre was valued at AUD139.5m.

The latest sale is a further indication that Blackstone has abandoned plans to sell its retail assets in Australia in a single portfolio for more than AUD3bn.

In May, Blackstone sold what was regarded by many as the best asset in the portfolio – the Top Ryde Retail Centre in Sydney’s north – for AUD700m.

Media reports that the US private equity group is also close to selling another sub-regional centre, Figtree Grove, two hours drive south of Sydney, for more than AUD210m.