Mumbai: Xander Group’s retail arm Virtuous Retail South Asia Pte. Ltd (VRSA) on Wednesday said it has acquired North Country Mall in Chandigarh from private equity fund Sun Apollo and US-based JJ Gumberg for Rs700 crore ($108 million) that includes paying down debt.
The acquisition marks the entry of VRSA into north India. Located in the Chandigarh capital region, the 2 million-sq. ft. North Country Mall is one of the largest malls in Punjab. It is built on 22 acres and has total leasable area of 1 million sq. ft. It has an additional leasing and further development potential of 600,000 sq. ft, the company said in a statement.
“Coming within six months of creation of the VRSA platform in late 2016, the acquisition is in line with the company’s rapid, nation-wide, expansion strategy through both ground up development and acquisition of existing, high quality assets,” the company said.
With this, VRSA’s India retail portfolio has touched 5.5 million sq. ft. It operates two other malls in Surat and Bengaluru. Another 2 million sq. ft mall in Chennai is slated to open in the fourth quarter of this year. The company also said it has plans to further invest in rebranding and expanding the mall.
Sid Yog, chairman of VRSA said: “North Country Mall offers an exciting opportunity to reformat and reposition a well-built mall in a great location, into a community-centric VR flagship for the residents of the Chandigarh capital region, and into a regional lifestyle destination for residents of surrounding cities like Ludhiana and Jalandhar.”
Rohit George, executive managing director of VRSA said the acquisition immediately adds 1 million sq. ft of high quality retail space to the company’s existing leasable portfolio.
“This acquisition, combined with VR Chennai which is in final lease up stage enables VRSA to simultaneously offer retailers, two new, exciting retail developments of scale, in key metropolitan markets, at a time when quality retail space is scarce and the economy is poised to grow strongly,” George said.
In November 2016, Dutch pension fund asset manager APG Asset Management NV and Virtuous Retail (VR) formed a joint venture that acquired a portfolio of three shopping malls from a Xander-sponsored fund for about Rs2,000 crore ($300 million).
APG has invested 77% of the equity for a majority shareholding in the joint venture and Xander has invested the remaining 23%. APG and Xander committed an additional $150 million as equity capital, giving the new company an investment capacity of $300 million that would be used to expand the portfolio through new acquisitions and new developments.