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Fair deal: Gold Coast shopping icon fetches global record price

Business

Long one of the iconic shopping and tourism destinations of the Gold Coast, the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre has been sold in one of the largest global retail transactions since 2018.

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Investment giants UniSuper and Cbus Property have entered into partnership with AMP Capital Retail Trust to secure 80 per cent ownership of the shopping, dining and entertainment complex that has lured visitors to Broadbeach strip for decades.

The $2.2 billion purchase netted the majority stake in Pacific Fair as well as 50 per cent of Sydney’s Macquarie Centre.

The deal is the nation’s largest retail commercial property sale.

The multi-billion-dollar investment is more than double the previous largest direct retail property deal.

That record was held by the $1 billion sale of half of the Pacific Werribee and Pacific Epping shopping centres to the Queensland Government’s fund manager, Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), back in 2018.

Pacific Fair opened in 1977 and has been renovated and redeveloped six times. It hosts 400 stores including dining, fashion, luxury and global brand stores.

Under it most recent $670-million overhaul in 2016, Pacific Fair was transformed into a destination resort-style precinct that made it Australia’s fourth largest shopping centre.

AMP Capital’s Head of Real Estate, Kylie O’Connor, said the deal demonstrated the returning confidence investors have in the retail sector.

“We are delighted to be working with UniSuper and Cbus Property as manager of these incredible assets,” O’Connor said.

“Since 2012, AMP Capital has overseen the redevelopment of the assets on behalf of investors to enhance the retail offering and trade area dominance of Pacific Fair and Macquarie Centre.”

It also signals investors confidence in the value of retail centres, despite the massive pandemic-inspired shift to online rather than destination shopping.

UniSuper’s Head of Property and Infrastructure, Kent Robbins, said there remained high value in quality centres in a combined online and bricks-and-mortar environment.

“We anticipate an increase in returns from certain shopping centres as retailers seek exposure to dominant shopping centres, such as Macquarie Centre and Pacific Fair, to leverage their omni-channel retail plans,” Robbins said.

The Pacific Fair sale is the biggest and most recent in what has turned into the great Gold Coast shopping centre sell off.

Earlier this month, a half share of the Runaway Bay Shopping Centre was sold to Perth’s Greenpool Capital and investment firm Qualitas for $128 million, while Vicinity Centres announced it had purchased a half stake in Harbour Town for $358 million.

QIC is also continuing to market its 50 per cent stake of Westfield Helensvale.

A slew of smaller shopping centres have also exchanged hands in the past few months including the southern Gold Coast neighbourhood shopping centre known as the “Man on the Bike” that was sold for $6.2 million in early June.

Around the same time, the Miami Shopping Village sold to a Gold Coast investor for $9.1 million.

Pacific Fair was owned by two investment funds, AMP Capital Retail Trust and AMP Capital Diversified Property Fund.

AMP Capital Retail Trust’s 80 per cent ownership of Pacific Fair was previously in partnership with sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The remaining 20 per cent stake, owned by the AMP Capital Diversified Property Fund (ADPF), has been placed on the market separately.

 

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