News Article Bratislava Erste financing loan retail shopping Slovakia Tatra Asset Management UniCredit URW Wood & Company
by Property Forum | Investment

Wood & Company has obtained a loan of €229.5 million, one of the highest amounts in the Slovak real estate market, to refinance the debt of the Aupark shopping centre in Bratislava. The financing will be provided by several European banking groups, all of which have operated historically in Slovakia. 

A syndicate of six banks consisting of Erste Group Bank AG, UniCredit Bank, Komerční banka, Slovenská sporiteľňa, Tatra banka and Raiffeisenlandesbank Niederösterreich-Wien AG, has provided the loan for the Aupark shopping centre.  

„Obtaining funding of this volume from a group of six banks during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, when the shopping centre has been closed for a long time, confirms the banking sector's confidence in Aupark itself as a premium retail asset, as well as in Wood & Company's ability to successfully manage its investments in the long term,” said Martin Šmigura, Investment Director and Head of Slovak real estate operations at Wood & Company.

Aupark's future joint venture partners (Wood & Company, Tatra Asset Management, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield) have been represented by Wood & Company in the process of securing financing. The loan’s purpose is to refinance the current debt of the company owning the most successful shopping centre in Slovakia.

„The value of the asset itself has attracted many internationally active financial institutions. However, in the process of partner selection, the negotiation of financing conditions and the creation of a syndicate, managed by Wood & Company, banking groups with an established presence in Slovakia eventually succeeded thanks to their deep knowledge of the market, and prominent position and performance of the Aupark shopping centre in the region“ added Miroslav Hilčík, a Wood & Company Senior Manager, who was involved in securing the bank financing for the transaction.

The syndicate of six financing banks was represented by Erste Group Bank AG, which acted as the loan arranger. „We are delighted that we have been able to support our client Wood & Company and its joint venture partners Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and Tatra Asset Management and arrange the refinancing of the Aupark shopping centre in Bratislava. Together with the other five banks in the syndicate, we demonstrated that the banking sector is willing to support quality projects as the economies of our region enter a critical rebound phase,“ added Marko Brekič, Executive Director of RE Finance at Erste Group Bank AG.

The international law firm White & Case, and the financial risk management company Chatham Financial provided the company with legal advice and interest rate hedging advisory services respectively.

The acquisition of the Aupark shopping centre from Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) was announced by Wood & Company, as the transaction leader, together with its JV partner, Tatra Asset Management, at the end of April this year. The total transaction value is €450 million, with buyers acquiring a 60% share to-date, while the remaining 40% will be acquired through pre-agreed stakes in 2022, 2023 and 2024. URW will continue to manage the property with Wood & Company until the asset is taken over fully by the buyers.

Aupark Bratislava is a premium shopping centre, with an excellent location for visitors from the capital city and the surrounding area. The flagship centre has a GLA of 59,600 sqm and attracted a footfall of 11.8 million (in 2019) with 231 business units and more than 2,200 parking spaces currently.