The fund has been set up in partnership with supermarket groupCasino – also the major shareholder behind the Polish developerMayland - and has already invested $214.2 million in 30 LeaderPrice stores in southwest France, a Géant hypermarket inArgenteuil, and a shopping arcade and retail park in Castelnaudarywhich is due to be delivered in early 2012. This initial investmentwas 50% financed by a loan from BNP Paribas.

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Shopping Property Fund 1 is BNP Paribas REIM's third OPCIinstitutional fund, focused in retail. The group's JacquelineFaisant said the fund reflects a strategy of products in sectorswhere it can develop partnerships with major users and benefitinvestors looking for diversification.

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"The retail sector portfolio managed by BNP Paribas Real EstateInvestment Management's regulated funds now represents almost €30mof rental income," she said. Casino is a shareholder in the newfund and its managing director for real estate Jacques Ehrmann saidthe move forms part of the group's strategy of outsourcing propertyassets to increase financial flexibility.

AllanSaundersonis a managing editor of PropertyInvestor Europe and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

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