The end of April marks one year since the announcement of the acquisition of the Aupark Bratislava shopping centre. The actual change in the shareholder structure took place on 27 May 2021, after the financial and investment group Wood & Company bought a stake in Aupark from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW). The acquisition, worth a total of €450 million, has been hailed as the largest real estate transaction in Slovakia's history up to this date. The real estate fund AUP Bratislava, which was established in connection with the transaction, announced the amount of revenues for the year 2021.
Wood & Company, as the leader of the transaction, together with its joint venture partner Tatra Asset Management, acquired a 60% stake in Aupark last year at an agreed total transaction price of €450 million (for 100% of the shares). "The acquisition of the second tranche is currently being intensively prepared, and we estimate that it will be completed in the summer of this year," says Lukáš Palaščák, Head of M&A at Wood & Company.
Aupark investment paid off already in the first year
The acquisition of Aupark was partially realized through financing from investors of the Wood & Company real estate fund AUP Bratislava subfund. Unlike the Office subfund and the Retail subfund, whose portfolio is composed of several commercial properties (office buildings and shopping centres), the AUP subfund is focused on investing in a single asset - the Aupark Bratislava shopping centre. The strategy of the sub-fund, based on dividend payments, is to deliver an average annual dividend yield of 5-6% to investors. The Wood & Company AUP Bratislava sub-fund achieved an appreciation of 5.63% in 2021 for the euro class of investment shares. "We view this figure as extremely positive, even in light of repeated waves of lockdowns and restrictions," explains Martin Šmigura, Investment Director at Wood & Company.
The future of Aupark and the "click & mortar" trend
The Aupark Bratislava shopping centre has 60,000 sqm of lettable area divided into 231 units for shops, services, gastronomy or leisure activities. The mix of these functions, together with the location in the immediate vicinity of the main motorway, generates traffic to Aupark not only from Bratislava but also from the surrounding area, including nearby Austria. Thanks to this, Aupark is considered a so-called destination shopping centre, which offers visitors added value in the form of leisure time in addition to regular shopping. The current and future potential of the shopping centre is also strengthened by the adjacent office buildings Aupark Tower, Digital Park 1 and 2 or Einpark. The extensive residential development in the catchment area of Aupark (Liget, Green Park, Slnečnice, Nové Lido, Nesto) represents the further potential for it to grow in terms of footfall.
A trend that is gradually being reflected in consumer behaviour is "click & mortar" is a variation of the term "brick & mortar", which is associated with the traditional understanding of "brick and mortar" shops. The 'click & mortar' trend brings a more up-to-date form of it, which is characterised by customers making a purchase online but eventually collecting the goods in-store or in a showroom. This way of shopping is most common for fashion brands, electronics or sporting goods. This is also why e-shop operators see the importance of their presence in shopping centres such as Aupark.
Wood & Company's Slovak real estate portfolio also includes the Aupark Tower, Lakeside Park 01, Westend Tower, BBC5, BBC1 and BBC1 Plus office buildings in Bratislava and commercial properties in Prague such as the Hadovka Office Park, Harfa Office Park and The Greenline office buildings, as well as the Galerie Harfa and Centrum Krakov shopping centres, plus Astrum Business Park in Warsaw.
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