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LONDON-Pillar Property, the specialist retail park investor, has refinanced three of its UK retail parks in Edinburgh, Preston and Chester. Existing loans have been replaced with conduit financing, in a £375 million ($545 million) deal with the German mortgage bank HVB.

The three parks covered by the new loan are Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh; Broughton Park, Chester and the Deepdale Retail Park, Preston, totalling 1.2 million sf between them.

Conduits involve the issuing of bonds secured on the individual properties. Although relatively common in North America, conduits are rarely used in the UK, but according to Pillar’s Finance Director Humphrey price, the method allowed Pillar the flexibility it required.

‘For some time, we have been reviewing various securitisation opportunities for Pillar’s retail park portfolio, but have been deterred by factors such as the cost and relative inflexibility involved with this method of financing,’ explained Price. ‘The deal provides a way for us to achieve a price efficient and flexible alternative to the existing loan funding for some of our parks, without the constraints of securitisation per se.’

The cost of unwinding the existing loans was £13 million ($19 million) but Pillar estimates the new arrangements will save £3 million ($4.35 million) per annum over the initial nine-year term. The loan is capable of being transferred along with the properties, should Pillar choose to inject them into the Hercules Unit Trust which it runs in partnership with Equitable Life.

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