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LONDON-New REIT Hammerson plc is cashing in on some of its portfolio, selling a 50% interest in WestQuay Shopping Centre in Southampton, England, for £299 million ($612 million) in cash after disposal costs to an affiliate of GIC Real Estate, the real estate investment arm of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp.

The 76,200-sm (820,000-sf) center is anchored by John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. The two companies will each hold a 50% interest in WestQuay in a joint venture partnership, with Hammerson retained as asset manager. Hammerson became a REIT earlier this year.

“This sale demonstrates the continuing demand for prime retail assets and is in line with our strategy of recycling capital,” John Richards, CEO of Hammerson, says in the announcement. “We look forward to working with GIC Real Estate to further strengthen the dominant trading position WestQuay occupies in its prosperous catchment. WestQuay was Hammerson’s single largest investment asset.”

Hammerson developed the project, which opened in 2000, in a 50/50 joint venture with Barclays. Hammerson acquired the latter’s interest in 2004, and will use the proceeds from this most recent transaction to finance its development program, estimated at £6 billion ($12.3 billion).

“This joint venture represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a premier shopping destination in the heart of Southampton,” says Dr. Seek Ngee Huat, president of GIC Real Estate, in the press release announcing the deal. “We look forward to partnering Hammerson, a leading European real estate company, on this investment.”

Hammerson plc invests in and develops shopping centers, retail parks and office buildings in the United Kingdom and France. Its portfolio is valued at £6.7 billion. Among its retail/entertainment projects are the Oracle in Reading, United Kingdom, with 76,200 sm (820,000 sf) and BullRing Shopping Centre in Downtown Birmingham, UK.

Founded in 1981 to manage Singapore’s foreign reserves, GIC now has offices in Beijing, London, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo, and manages assets of more than $100 billion. Among GIC Real Estate’s recent retail investments is a joint venture with Sydney-based Westfield Group in Westfield Parramatta, a 140,000-sm (1.5 million-sf) enclosed mall in New South Wales, Australia.

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