NETHERLANDS - The €205bn Dutch pension fund ABP today revealed it now owns Scandinavia's largest shopping centre owner and developer, Steen & Strøm, after buying the firm in a joint venture for NOK21.9bn (€2.7bn).

Together with French real estate company Klépierre, the giant Dutch fund entered into an agreement on Friday to acquire 100% of the outstanding share capital of the Norwegian Steen & Strøm, so ABP now owns 43.9% and Klépierre the remaining 56.1% of the company.

In a joint statement issued this morning, Klépierre and ABP said the transaction - expected to close later this year - would allow them to gain critical mass in the Scandinavian shopping centre market, which is projected to grow faster in the coming years than the rest of Europe.

Patrick Kanters, managing director for global real estate at ABP's investment manager, APG, said: "It is very rare to be able to get substantial exposure to one of Europe's leading-fully integrated shopping centre platforms," adding the acquisition is part of its strategic portfolio of retail specialists.

A spokesman told IPE these investments are interesting for pension funds because "they generate relatively stable and attractive returns".

APG currently manages €20bn in real estate investments globally for the pension fund.

Steen & Strøm, branded as the largest shopping centre owner, developer and manager in Scandinavia, owns 30 shopping centres throughout Scandinavia which are currently 96.4% let.

Laurent Morel, a board member at Klépierre, also said the company's portfolio of projects, many of which are currently under development, was one of the attractions of the acquisition.

ABP and Klépierre said it is their joint intention to continue the business of Steen & Strøm in its current form and support the company in its growth ambitions, including the rollout of its development pipeline.

ABP announced earlier this month it had lost 8% on its real estate investments in the first half of this year. (See earlier IPE story: ‘Dutch big four lose €16bn in first half')

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