PARIS-UK REIT Hammerson has agreedto sell a 51% stake in the O'Parinor shopping center, its largestasset, to the National Pension Service of Korea. It will receivenet proceeds of $274 million, and also agreed to sell a further 24%stake to NPS in 2011 for an expected net $134 million.

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NPS is the fifth largest pension fund in the world and hasinvested heavily in European property over the past year todiversify its asset portfolio. "This transaction is in line withour strategy of investing in high quality global real estate," saidHee Seok Kim, head of global investment at NPS. In May it boughtBerlin’s Sony Center for close to $758 million, after acquiringHSBC's headquarters in London's Canary Wharf. It also owns part ofLondon Gatwick airport.

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O'Parinor centre was valued at $546 million in June. It wasoriginally acquired by Hammerson in 2002 for $190 million but thetotal cost rose to $346 million after a 258,000-square-footextension and renovation in 2008. This boosted the size to 968,000square feet.

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O'Parinor comprises 220 stores, including major retailers suchas Carrefour, H&M and Zara outlets, with an occupancy rate of96.4%. Hammerson said the disposal will allow it to release capitalfor investment opportunities in the UK and France which offersuperior returns, and will reduce exposure to its single largestasset.

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AllanSaunderson is a managing editor of Property InvestorEurope and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

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