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Blackstone Is Latest Private Equity Firm To Hand A UK Mall Back To Lenders

The St Enoch Centre in Glasgow

Blackstone has ceded control of a major UK shopping centre that it bought for £190M to lenders. 

The investment giant has handed the keys of the 830K SF St Enoch Centre in Glasgow back to lenders Morgan Stanley and M&G Real Estate, React News reported. The lenders are working on new plans with asset manager Sovereign Centros for the mall.

Retail only makes up about 0.5% of Blackstone’s roughly $167B of real estate assets under management. This is the third time in less than six months it has lost control of assets in the sector in the UK and Ireland. Bisnow revealed last October that a portfolio of three retail and leisure assets it owned in a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Investment Council had been put into receivership.

And in Ireland lenders including Goldman Sachs have taken over the 1.2M SF Blanchardstown mall in Dublin, which Blackstone bought for $1.1B in 2016 and returned to lenders in November.

Blackstone paid Ivanhoe Cambridge £190M for the St Enoch Centre in 2013 and spent £40M on a 90K SF leisure extension that is due to open shortly. It tried to sell the centre for £250M in 2015 but couldn’t find a buyer. 

Morgan Stanley and M&G provided a combined £150M of debt to refinance the centre in 2018, React said.

Other private equity investors like Lone Star, Oaktree Capital and Cerberus Capital have also ceded control of malls, unwilling to invest money to try and improve the value beyond the level of the debt, a strategy that has no certainty of succeeding.