A fund advised by Meyer Bergman, the pan-European real estate investment manager, has sold the Piccadilly flagship store of Waterstones, Europe’s largest bookshop, for £92 million to Italian lawyers’ pension fund Cassa Forense.
The vehicle buying the property is the Cicerone property fund, whose investment and asset management advisers are CBRE Global Investors and Fabrica SGR respectively.
The sale of the Waterstones store allows Meyer Bergman to achieve the returns targeted by the fund even as the sale comes earlier than the anticipated business plan. It demonstrates the tremendous liquidity for high street properties in great locations and validates the firm’s decision to focus on these assets given their appeal to long term investors. More disposals by Meyer Bergman’s funds are scheduled as business plans for certain assets reach maturity or the firm seizes opportunities like this to crystallise value.
Meyer Bergman European Retail Partners II originally acquired the 66,320 sqft Grade II listed building from an expiring German fund to add to its portfolio of high street properties in prime shopping destinations and other retail-anchored real estate. The art deco building, which stands 100 yards from Piccadilly Circus, opened in 1936 as Simpson’s Department Store. Waterstones moved in as the sole tenant in 1999, renewing its lease shortly after the fund purchased the building.
The fund’s other high street properties are on London’s Bond Street and Mount Street, avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris, Milan’s Corso Buenos Aires, Oslo’s Grensen and Copenahgen’s Købmagergade. It has already sold properties in Madrid and downtown Copenhagen. The Fund also owns two department stores in Berlin and two substantial redevelopment projects in London’s Bayswater and Borough neighbourhoods – Whiteleys and Stoney Street.
The Meyer Bergman fund was advised by Jones Day and PwC. Advisers to the Cicerone Fund were Lunson Mitchenall and a group of law firms led by Nabarro that comprised Mourant Ozannes, Houthoff Buruma, Nunziate and Legance-Avvocati Associati.