US real estate investment management company LaSalle said it has bought a store rented by Sainsbury's in Ballymena on behalf of the group which runs the pension fund for Northern Ireland government workers.
The building at Braidwater Retail Park was purchased for £17.85m from property company Corbo Properties as an investment for the NI Local Government Officers Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC).
The 60,777 sq ft store is let to Sainsbury's on a 25-year lease. Osborne King and CBRE jointly advised Corbo Properties, the vendor, while LaSalle was advised by Wilkinson Williams.
Stephen Kirkpatrick, chief executive of Corbo Properties, said the site had proved profitable for the investment company.
"Having originally developed this scheme in the mid-1990s we have consistently sought to add value to the property through our proactive asset management approach," he said.
"The sale to LaSalle at a net initial yield of 5.16% demonstrates clearly that, notwithstanding the current economic challenges, there continues to be strong institutional demand for prime assets in Northern Ireland."
Chris Fry, director at LaSalle Investment Management, said the company is on the lookout for more properties of the same type.
"We are interested in well located prime assets with long, unexpired leases," he said. "We continue to seek prime property investments with long, index linked leases across the UK."
The latest purchase by LaSalle's follows its acquisition of two other superstores for NILGOSC last year; a 85,119 sq ft Tesco store and petrol station on Bentrim Road in Lisburn and a 70,973 sq ft Sainsbury's store on Strand Road, Londonderry.
Following the acquisition of the Ballymena store, LaSalle has invested a total of £66.45m in Northern Ireland supermarket properties, while its investment at Braidwater Retail Park has reached over £30m.
Belfast-based NILGOSC manages the local government pension scheme for Northern Ireland and serves over 90,000 members across 204 public sector employers with an investment fund in excess of £3.9bn.