Pinsent Masons acts as shopping centre sold in UK first

13 Sep 2012 | 02:37 pm | 2 min. read

International law firm Pinsent Masons has advised on what is believed to be the first acquistion of a UK shopping centre by a Local Asset Backed Vehicle (LABV).

LABVs are a UK model for investment which typically allow for the creation of joint venture partnerships between public sector organisations and private sector investors. 

The public sector organisation often contributes land and assets to the partnership, while the private sector partner commits cash and expertise in return for a share of profits. 

In a UK first Aylesbury Vale Estates (AVE) - a LABV established by Aylesbury Vale Council and a consortium of private sector investors in 2009 - has acquired Hale Leys Shopping Centre in Aylesbury, South East England, from Warner Estate.

The deal sees AVE purchase the freehold of the 95,000 sq ft centre, which occupies a key location in the heart of the town centre, as part of a programme of investment to prevent commerce being diverted to other retail centres. 

Tom Johnson, partner at Pinsent Masons who advised AVE, said: “Having worked with Aylesbury Vale District Council on the establishment of Aylesbury Vale Estates in 2009, the UK's first true 50/50 public/private local asset backed vehicle, we were pleased to be able to support the joint venture on the acquisition of the Hale Leys shopping centre. The centre will be key to the longer term retail offering in the town and this acquisition is a unique and innovative collaboration between the Council and its private sector partner - a first for a LABV such as this.”

AVE was was set up 3 years ago to acquire the majority of  Aylesbury Vale Council’s non-operational property interests – a total of some 250 premises in Aylesbury, Buckingham and local villages - including industrial estates, shops and offices along with development sites.  

Since then, AVE has been re-positioning the portfolio and enhancing the income stream through a programme of asset management and development initiatives. An affordable housing scheme of 50 units is shortly to commence and a new trade park on the southern part of Aylesbury’s ring road is currently pre-letting.   

AVE principal Graham Cole said: “Aylesbury has a large and affluent catchment population, but currently suffers from significant leakage to other centres in the area.  There is a real opportunity to improve it’s position in the sub-regional hierarchy, with a strategy designed to bind the town centre together linking the existing retail core with AVDC’s the new hotel and Waitrose scheme, which is currently underway, and the new theatre which AVDC has also delivered.”

Councillor Michael Edmonds, AVDC’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development was delighted with the acquisition, adding “AVDC’s reputation as a council willing to take bold decisions and work with partners to deliver exciting and innovative projects is well established. The involvement of AVDC in the Hale Leys purchase is in line with our commitment to making sure that Aylesbury grows and develops to meet the needs and aspirations of our significantly expanding population”.  

Private sector investors involved in the LABV were coordinated by Guildhouse UK.

Savills acted for Warner. Strutt & Parker represented AVE.

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