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Shopping centre purchased by Crown Estate

By Nick Webb

Published 19/08/2014

John B McGuckian is the former chairman of UTV
John B McGuckian is the former chairman of UTV

The Crown Estate has teamed up with Chinese group Gingko Tree Investment to buy the Fosse Park retail centre in Leicester, which was owned by companies associated with former UTV chairman John B McGuckian and his partner Ken Cheevers.

McGuckian and Cheevers had amassed a major portfolio of shopping centres and retail parks across the UK and Ireland over the last 20 years through their Foyleside and Abbey Centre firms.

The portfolio includes the vast Fosse Park complex, and the Marshes Centre in Dundalk.

The £360m purchase of the Fosse Shopping Park in 2006 was the largest retail property purchase in the UK in over a decade.

Ulster Bank provided loans to fund the portfolio. As part of its move to deleverage and tidy up its balance sheet, Ulster Bank has been selling off large chunks of its property-related loan book, with over £11bn worth of assets earmarked for sale by 2016.

Savills was appointed to handle the process to offload the Swallowtail portfolio, which includes eight shopping centres and retail parks, including Fosse.

Kildare Partners, the property buyout fund set up by Irish billionaire Ellis Short – owner of Sunderland Football Club – is buying the Foyleside centre in Londonderry and the Forestside centre in Belfast as backers of McGuckian and Cheevers.

Kildare has teamed up with Foyleside and Abbey Centre to asset manage the two shopping centres following the £130m deal. Kennedy Wilson is paying €55m (£44m) for the Dundalk Marshes centre.

Belfast Telegraph

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