LJUBLJANA (Slovenia) Slovenian retailer Mercator [LJE:MELR] said on Friday it has signed a deal on the sale of 10 shopping centres in Slovenia to Austria’s Supernova group for 116.6 million euro ($134.9 million).
Under the sale contract, Mercator will rent parts of the centres where it performs its principal activity, the company said in a filing to the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.
“The signed contract is proof that Mercator continues to successfully execute the monetization project, which is intended to reduce the Group’s debt and enable its long-term development,” the statement added. “The sale of ten shopping centres in Slovenia concludes the second phase of the monetization project, which Mercator shall continue to carry out in the future.”
According to Mercator, the monetisation project began with the sale of the shopping centre in Belgrade at the end of last year.
“At the beginning of this year, Mercator launched an international tender, inviting international investors and investment funds whose principal activity is property management. The project included 17 centres in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. After the sale of the centres in Slovenia and the conclusion of the second phase of the monetization, Mercator shall initiate the third phase, which includes the sale of centres in the remaining two countries,” the company noted.
Founded in 1994, Supernova is headquartered in Graz and maintains offices in Vienna, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Bratislava and Belgrade. Supernova has been focusing on the development of and the investment in real estate and its current portfolio exceeds the value of 1 billion euro in assets.
The deal represents the second stage of Mercator’s strategy to sell retail assets with the aim of reducing the group’s debt and facilitating further long-term development, including the construction of a new distribution and logistics centre in Ljubljana.
Last year, the board of Mercator Group announced a new strategy that seeks to considerably lower Mercator’s indebtedness and thus ensure pre-conditions for a new investment cycle, which the company sees as key for its long-term development.
The sale of real estate assets at the company began last year with the sale of the shopping mall in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.