Singapore’s CapitaLand, which continues to revamp its Chinese shopping centre portfolio, has sold 20 malls to a Chinese consortium, including China Vanke, for RMB8.4bn (€1.08bn).

It is the third transaction the real estate group has undertaken since September last year as it moves to reorient its China mall portfolio towards top-tier cities.

The company said the 20 malls sold in China accounted for around 4% of CapitaLand’s global total assets and 7% of the value of its China shopping mall portfolio as at 30 June 2017.

Of the 20 malls, 14 are located in non-core cities. Post-divestment, CapitaLand will own 49 malls, concentrated in 22 Chinese cities, with 45 of those in first and second-tier cities.

Lim Ming Yan, the president and group CEO of CapitaLand, said: “China is now sitting on the cusp of transformative changes to its retail industry, characterised by a burgeoning middle-class and the rising popularity of omni-channel retailing.

“CapitaLand is seizing this window of opportunity to reconstitute its mall portfolio with a sharper geographical focus that enhances our capacity to capture growth opportunities in China.

“We will continue to invest in dominant assets in core Chinese city clusters, where we already enjoy a competitive advantage.”

Lim said a rejuvenated portfolio will enable CapitaLand to respond more effectively to shifts in Chinese consumer behaviour and capitalise on China’s rapid urbanisation.

In December, CapitaLand sold CapitaMall Kunshan in the Chinese city of Kunshan for RMB198m. Earlier, in September, the group’s subsidiary, CapitaLand Retail China Trust, sold its entire stake in a company that owned Beijing Anzhen shopping mall for RMB1.13bn.

Lim reiterated that China is an important core market for CapitaLand. “We hold a long-term view of our business in the country,” he said.

Last month, CapitaLand and CapitaLand Retail China Trust jointly acquired Rock Square, a 84,000sqm shopping mall in the southern city of Guangzhou, for RMB3.3bn.

As CapitaLand upgrades its portfolio, the Chinese consortium purchasing its assets said it saw the sale as an opportunity to step up its exposure to the retail sector.

The consortium is made up of SCPG Holdings, a Chinese shopping mall owner, developer and operator; China Vanke Co; and Triwater Asset Management Holdings.

The acquisition will increase SCPG’s holdings to 120 retail properties with gross floor area of 10m sqm across 58 cities in China. The assets are valued at RMB80bn.

Ding Li-ye, senior vice president of Vanke and chairman and president of SCPG, said acquisition of the equity of the holding companies of CMA’s mature assets was aligned with SCPG’s development strategy.

SCPG has flagged further acquisitions as it seeks to become the leading commercial real estate platform in China.