hermes is planning to clear out part of its retail portfolio and move into new sectors, which could include residential and continental Europe for the first time.The pension fund’s biggest disposal will be the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton, which is understood to be under offer to Legal & General for more than £80m. Hermes is shedding the centre because it feels that it is overweight in the Midlands. The deal will mark one of the largest shopping centre transactions in the past 12 months.Hermes is also to sell the Lion and Lamb Yard shopping centre in Surrey to Portman Investments for £12.3m and a portfolio of seven town-centre retail units to Dawnay Day for £13.5m.Richard Harrold, head of property, said that he hopes to complete the disposals in the next three months. A decision, he said, on whether to invest in the residential sector is likely to be made before the end of the financial year.However, Harrold said that a view on Europe would not be taken until the full effects of the euro had been assessed.Hermes is to maintain a neutral balance on its £1.5bn property portfolio.Of the recent sales, the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton comprises 39,019 sq m (420,000 sq ft) of retail and office space. The sale is expected to represent a 6.7% net initial yield.The Farnham centre comprises 6,596 sq m (71,000 sq ft) of retail space and the deal will represent a 7.7% net initial yield. The sale of the portfolio of seven town-centre units will represent a 9.1% net initial yield.Legal & General is also to move its property weighting from an overweight to a neutral position. But a spokesman said it is targeting business park and industrial holdings.Jones Lang Wootton acted for Hermes in Farnham and Northampton; CB Hillier Parker acted for Hermes on the retail portfolio. Cluttons Daniel Smith acted for Portman Investments while Lewis & Partners acted for Dawnay Day.
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