Dutch pension fund manager APG Asset Management is in talks to sell, either partially or fully, its stake in Virtuous Retail South Asia, which owns and operates about 14 million square feet of retail assets in India.
Sources aware of the ongoing talks said several private equity firms and real estate developers are interested in acquiring the stake that would allow them to own prime retail assets in leading cities in the country. Brookfield Asset Management was named as one of the potential buyers and led the race.
APG owns over 75 per cent stake in Virtuous Retail South Asia, and if the entire stake is sold it would be worth over $1 billion, said the sources. Virtuous Retail was founded in 2007 by Singapore’s investment firm Xander Inc to set up community-centric infrastructure and developments, combining retail, food, leisure, new-age flexible work and living spaces, hospitality, events, and entertainment centres.
In 2016 APG and Xander teamed up for a $450 million joint venture with the Dutch asset manager holding a majority stake of 77 per cent. The joint venture company set up Virtuous Retail South Asia to develop, own and operate mall assets in India. The JV also acquired three retail assets from a Xander-backed fund for ₹2,000 crore. Since then, Virtuous Retail has scaled up and spread its operations across the country through organic and inorganic routes.
At present, Virtuous Retail has shopping centres in six cities — Chennai, Bengaluru, Surat, Amritsar, Nagpur and Chandigarh — while two more malls, spread over 7 million square feet, are coming up in Thane and Delhi.
In 2019 it had acquired two shopping malls from Tata Sons subsidiary, Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd, for ₹700 crore.
In response to e-mails seeking clarification on the ongoing talks and deal, both APG and Xander said they had no comments to offer. Brookfield and Virtuous Retail did not respond to e-mails sent to them.