Atterbury Europe – a joint venture company formed by Atterbury Group and foreign investors – has launched its inaugural investment in the Serbian retail property market by joining forces with one of Serbia’s largest real estate development companies, MPC Properties.
Atterbury Europe jointly with Attacq Limited, has acquired a one-third stake in a €259-million gross asset value portfolio of seven Serbian shopping centres with MPC Properties – including the country’s largest mall, Ušće Shopping Centre, in its capital Belgrade. In addition, the parties seeded a 50/50 development fund to develop a pipeline of retail real estate assets in Serbia and neighbouring countries in the Balkans.
The venture is the beginning of a powerful property development partnership. Louis van der Watt, CEO of Atterbury Group, comments: “Atterbury Europe’s partnership with MPC has created a very strategic alliance indeed. It furthers our goal to develop and invest in shopping centres in Central- and Eastern Europe, with an immediate focus on fast-developing Eastern European markets. We are fortunate to have formed the relationship with MPC that has achieved excellent property development success in Serbia, and who share a similar culture to the Atterbury Group, which adds strength to our European growth strategy.”
Petar Matić, founder and owner of MPC Properties, comments: “MPC has found a partner with a similar mind-set, focus and background as a developer of sizeable shopping malls. Atterbury is a financially strong partner with a focus on new developments and wants to continue expanding MPC’s retail portfolio.”
Morné Wilken, CEO of JSE-listed real estate capital growth fund Attacq Limited, comments: “Our investment in this Serbian retail portfolio and partnership, undertaken jointly with Atterbury Europe and MPC Properties, supports Attacq’s diversification strategy into Europe and creates the opportunity to harness further value for our investors.”
Atterbury Europe focuses on shopping centre investments and retail development opportunities in Europe jointly with local European partners and Attacq, particularly the eastern European region. In July 2015, it made its first landmark investment in a €200-million retail portfolio in Cyprus.
Now, Atterbury Europe has targeted Serbia and the Balkan region as a key investment territory and is confident about the area’s development opportunities.
“Serbia is growing. It has applied to be part of the EU, and as this possibility draws closer we are seeing a lot of foreign investment coming into the country. This creates numerous opportunities for market-driven retail development in Serbia. In fact, the fast-growing Eastern European market enjoys growing multinational retailer demand but has a scarcity of shopping centre space,” says van der Watt.
Belgrade is a city of close to two million people, and currently has only two large shopping malls. Ušće Shopping Centre is its largest mall and dominates the local market with an average of over one million visitors each month. Its diverse retail mix covers 47,000m2 of lettable area with more than 150 stores leased to well-known brands including Zara, C&A, Massimo Dutti, Tom Taylor, New Yorker, Deichman, Nike, Adidas, Swarovski, Samsung, Sony, MAC, McDonald’s and KFC, amongst others. It also has a Cineplexx with 11 cinema screens.
The Atterbury Europe and MPC retail property portfolio also includes four smaller centres in Belgrade and two assets in the city of Subotica.