Austrian real estate group Immofinanz has agreed to sell its five Moscow shopping centers to Russian property company Fort Group for 901 million euros ($1.05 billion), it said on Monday.
The deal, which marks the Austrian group’s exit from Russia, clears the last hurdle for a merger of Immofinanz and smaller Austrian rival CA Immo and is expected to close at the end of this year.
Immofinanz has offered its Russian tenants, many of whom struggled to pay dollar-denominated bills, rent reductions for years, which has weighed heavily on its results.
For Fort Group, which Reuters reported on Oct. 4 was the likely buyer, the sale means it can expand from its St Petersburg base into Moscow’s retail market.
The sale includes 675 million euros, converted from rubles, in debt on the portfolio.
“This transaction will immediately recover equity and significantly reduce our financial liabilities and average financing costs,” Immofinanz Chief Executive Oliver Schumy said in a statement.
“Immofinanz can now concentrate on further growth to become one of the largest players on the commercial property market in Europe.”
Immofinanz bought 26 percent in CA Immo in April 2016, the first step towards a merger of the two office and commercial property groups. Schumy has said the aim of the merger was to become one of the top twelve players in Europe.
Previous merger attempts have failed and the latest talks were halted a year ago until Immofinanz shed its Russian assets. ($1 = 0.8587 euros) – Reuters