EUROPE - UK property management and development firm Quintain has acquired Grafton, adviser to the £872.2m (€1bn) West End of London Property Unit Trust (WELPUT), for £5.75m.

Grafton Advisors chairman Nigel Kempner - who set up the business last decade to advise GE Capital on the disposal of assets acquired with his previous firm, Benchmark - said: "We've been considering for a while the possibility of a sale or of bringing in a further partner because we wanted to widen the base of what we do in terms of assets under management."

Kempner has known Quintain chief executive Adrian Wyatt since the 1990s, when the two firms joined forces to acquire UK property firm Chesterfield for £139m.

He said business would remain "as is" for the group, which will transfer wholesale to Quintain's offices. 

A spokeswoman for Quintain - which has PGGM as a major shareholder - said the acquisition would make no difference to the management of WELPUT, which Kempner and Schroders set up in 2001.

She also confirmed the firm had no plans for further acquisitions that would increase the firm's exposure to central London prime assets.

Instead, its focus for the time being will be on regeneration development projects in Greenwich and Wembley.

In separate news, UK REIT Hammerson is to pull out of central London office to focus on dominant shopping centres and retail parks.

Posting income growth of 3.5% last week, chief executive David Atkins said the film would accelerate the disposal of standing office investments and redeploy the capital into retail assets.

The firm will also review the returns from development schemes with a view to creating value from mixed-use sites through joint ventures.

The firm has already reduced the office segment of its portfolio from 28% in 2005 to 11% last year, while its retail allocation increased from 72% to 89%.

Recent disposals include three assets collectively worth £465m in the City and Canary Wharf.