(For more retail coverage, click GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

MONTREAL-Locally headquartered shopping center company Ivanhoe Cambridge has acquired a 39.5% interest in European Retail Enterprises, which owns Groupe B.E.G., a developer, owner and manager of retail properties in France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. The two other shareholders are Simon Property Group, which owns a 34.7% interest, and ERE’s founding shareholders, which own the remainder.

Industry sources tell GlobeSt.com the interest acquired by Ivanhoe Cambridge was sold by Peabody and Argo Group investment funds, managed by JP Morgan and the O’Connor Group. Neither Ivanhoe Cambridge nor Simon Property Group named the seller or the cost of the acquisition. According to Simon’s Web site, the company’s initial expansion abroad occurred in 1998 with its investment in Groupe BEG with “two institutional partners.”

Ivanhoe Cambridge and SPG say they will equalize ownership “in the future” through the purchase of additional interests from ERE founders. In the meantime, Simon and ERE will have equal representation on the board of directors. Hans Mautner, President of Simon’s International Division and Chairman of Simon Global Limited, will continue to serve as Chief Executive Officer of ERE.

SPG chief executive David Simon says the transaction “gives the entity stable ownership” with which to pursue its development pipeline. Ivanhoe Cambridge chief executive Rene Tremblay says the acquisition furthers the company’s strategy to diversify geographically and expand its portfolio and network in Europe via an established platform with growth potential.

Ivanhoe Cambridge is active in Canada, the United States and Europe with a $7-billion portfolio that includes 37 million-sf in 43 regional and super-regional shopping centers. Simon Property Group owns 296 properties in the US totaling 202 million sf and another 51 shopping centers in Europe. The company’s current total market capitalization is approximately $38 billion. ERE, through BEG, is a full-service developer, manager and owner of retail properties that currently owns interests in 11 retail properties comprising over 4.2 million sf of space in France, Poland and Portugal, including Eastern Europe’s largest shopping center, Arkadia, located in Warsaw.

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