The owners of Tunbridge Wells’ flagship shopping center Royal Victoria Place (RVP) are said to be in talks with a rival retail owner over an £800million asset swap.
According to an article in the March 19 National Times, British Land and Landsec have held talks which would involve at least one of British Land’s shopping centers changing hands, as the two property giants seek ways to increase their drifting stock price.
As part of the proposed deal, it is understood that Landsec would acquire a 50% share of Meadowhall in Sheffield, which is valued at around £780million – and British Land would take Landsec’s ten business parks in return.
It could pave the way for a similar deal for British Land shopping centers such as RVP after the commercial landlord seeks to move away from closed shopping centers to out-of-town retail parks.
Mark Allan and Simon Carter, CEOs of Landsec and British Land respectively, are both under pressure to close persistent gaps between the book value of their assets and the market value of their companies. Landsec is trading at a 24% discount and British Land at a 25% discount.
British Land has seen more than £1billion wiped out of its retail portfolio during the pandemic after having to cut and in some cases waive rents altogether.
He has since spent hundreds of millions of pounds buying out-of-town shopping parks, believing them to be more profitable post-pandemic than traditional shopping centres.
Meadowhall, which is jointly owned by British Land and Norwegian bank Norges, was valued at £778.7million in March last year.
The commercial building owner paid £96million for Royal Victoria Place in 2018.
Landsec, which also owns shares in the Bluewater shopping center in Dartford, owns ten retail parks valued at £405million.
The news comes after this newspaper revealed RVP’s empty BHS unit is set to be converted into a leisure and entertainment complex following a £9million investment by Elite Leisure Collection, which also owns One Media, publisher of Times.