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DORTMUND, GERMANY-Hellweg Die Profi-Baumärkte GmbH & Co. KG, a major home improvement retailer in Germany, has sold 16 retail facilities for $154 million in exchange for a 25-year leaseback agreement. Hellweg operates 73 stores across Germany and seven in Austria. The stores in the transaction are located in 16 different German cities.The new owners are two funds managed by WP Carey & Co., a New York City-based sale-leaseback specialist. Corporate Property Associates 15 owns 75% of the portfolio and CPA 16 owns the remainder.The transaction is WP Carey’s largest single investment ever in Europe. WP Carey president Ed LaPuma could not be reached Tuesday for further comment. After a major sale-leaseback deal in Finland last year, LaPuma said the company’s goal was to continue expanding its presence in the European market, where approximately 70% of corporations own their own real estate. The US average is less than half that number. “We anticipate an increase in our investment volume in the months ahead as more European companies realize the benefits [of sale-leaseback transactions],” he said. In August, the company closed a $103-million deal with a major military contractor in France and in January it closed as a $103-million deal with a major military contractor in France. The Hellweg deal is its first in Europe since January.All told, WP Carey has invested about $540 million in Europe over the past 16 months completing transactions with: Pohjola Non-Life Insurance Co. Ltd. ($110million, Finland); the Thales Group SA ($103 million, France); TietoEnator Plc. ($97.6 million, Finland); Plantasjen ASA ($30.8 million, Finland and Sweden); the Polestar Group ($27.8 million, United Kingdom) and the Belgium Government ($16.6 million, Belgium).

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