Link Real Estate Investment Trust (Link Reit), Asia’s largest real estate investment trust, is strengthening its operations in mainland China by taking complete control of a retail property in Shanghai from its joint-venture partner China Vanke.
Link Reit has agreed to acquire the 50 per cent stake in Qibao Vanke Plaza it does not already own from the indebted developer for 2.38 billion yuan (US$331 million), according to a statement from the Hong Kong-listed company on Friday.
The company had acquired a 50 per cent interest in Qibao Vanke Plaza in April 2021 and will become the sole owner following the completion of the transaction.
“Going forward, we are not only committed to providing mall consumers with a pleasant experience and vibrant community life, but will also continue to explore different asset strategy options to enhance the value of the property,” George Hongchoy, CEO of Link Reit, said in the statement.
The acquisition comes amid a gradual improvement in retail sales in Shanghai and the addition of new commercial property. Eight new projects came online in China’s biggest metropolis in the fourth quarter, adding 587,000 square metres (6.3 million sq ft) of prime retail space, according to property consultants.
Link Reit said it intends to hold the asset as a long-term investment. The company has 12 assets on the mainland, including five malls in Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
As part of the agreement, if any equity in the property is transferred to a third party as a result of Link Reit’s introduction of strategic partners within 12 months of the takeover, the company will share with Vanke part of the gains from the transaction.
Qibao Vanke Plaza is located in Minhang, the second most populous district in Shanghai. The five-storey shopping centre has a gross retail area of 148,853 square metres and three storeys of basement car park with 1,477 parking spaces.
Shanghai’s retail sales totalled 1.52 trillion yuan from January to October 2023, an increase of 14.4 per cent year on year, according to data compiled by Cushman & Wakefield from official data.
Per capita disposable income rose 7 per cent to 66,857 yuan and per capita consumption expenditure jumped 22 per cent to 41,867 yuan in the first three quarters from a year earlier.
Despite the growth, consumers were still cautious in their spending in the face of a slowing economy and declining property values in Shanghai, according to a report from the property consultancy in December.
“The new supply influx [in Shanghai] will drive further competition among retail landlords for customer traffic and quality tenants,” it said.