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LONDON-Investors’ insatiable appetite for UK shopping centres has continued into 2003 with more than £1.05 billion ($1.6 billion) of malls changing hands in the first quarter of the year. Activity levels have been maintained from the previous quarter when £1 billion ($1.6 billion) of deals completed.

But statistics from DTZ show that activity in the first quarter 2003 was 26% down on the first quarter in 2002, which was the record quarter over the past five years. Overall 29 deals completed in the quarter, giving an average lot size of £36.36 million ($57 million) consistent with the five-year average of £36.66 million ($58 million).

Key deals in Q1 included included CIT’s £325 million ($510 million) purchase of the Charterhouse shopping centre funds; Warner Estate’s formation of the £223 million ($350 million) Agora shopping centre fund with the Bank of Scotland and the Mall Partnership’s acquisition of both The Grosvenor Centre in Chester for £105 million ($165 million) and the acquisition of the Gracechurch Centre in Sutton Coldfield.

Mark Williams, Head of Retail Investment at DTZ, said: “There remains a general shortage of new stock, whilst interest in the sector remains active, particularly from both property companies and highly leveraged buyers. Retail remains the most positive sector and we believe that there opportunities for rental growth and shopping centres still provide asset management opportunities in many instances.

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