SPAIN - Rockspring Property Investment Managers has completed a €45m sale and leaseback deal in Spain on behalf of an unnamed UK pension fund.

Spanish food retailer Eroski has agreed to a sale and lease back of almost two dozen neighbourhood grocery stores and stand-alone units to the Rockspring client, signing a 20-year lease for the entire portfolio.

The portfolio, which comprises 21 assets totalling 320,000 square feet of lettable area located mainly in the Basque country and Majorca, benefits from strong and resilient local economies and demographics, Rockspring said.

The transaction was in line with the investment strategy of the UK pension fund's mandate, which is targeting un-leveraged core/core-plus returns across western and central Europe in retail, office and warehouse opportunities, with a total investment capacity of £300m (€365m).

James Preston, Rockspring Iberia's managing director, said: "Food retail has proven to be a well performing, defensive sector across Spain both before and during the economic downturn - we are therefore pleased to have secured exposure to this successful asset type.

"These properties appealed to us due to the combination of their prime location, strong local economic fundamentals, sustainable rental levels and the quality of Eroski as a tenant.

"As such, the investment provides a high degree of insulation from any further effects of the downturn, as well as being well positioned for any recovery."

The transaction was Eroski's fourth disposal of the year, following similar sale and leaseback deals.

José Miguel Fernández Astobiza, development manager at Eroski, said: "This portfolio disposal shows further progress in our strategy as we seek to dispose of the freehold interest in our properties to release capital to develop our commercial retail activities."