Whispers of Meridian Mall deal

A buyer may have been found for the Meridian Mall. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
A buyer may have been found for the Meridian Mall. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The Meridian, Dunedin’s most popular shopping mall, may have a new owner.

Auckland property group Oyster Property, which manages a portfolio of retail and commercial assets valued at more than $1.8billion, is understood to be the front runner for a portfolio of properties which includes the Meridian Mall and two Dress Smart outlets in Christchurch and Onehunga, Auckland.

Lendlease Real Estate Partners’ New Zealand fund put the three properties on the market late last year, with a price tag of $350million.

Colliers Real Estate, which is marketing the portfolio, said it was unable to confirm the sale as negotiations had been subject to strict non-disclosure.

Oyster chief executive Mark Schiele did not respond to inquiries yesterday, but all three properties are registered as part of Oyster’s 10-property retail asset portfolio.

Oyster, which manages more than 20 property funds, has also had a long relationship with both the Meridian Mall, which it has managed since 2006, and Dress Smart Onehunga, which it founded in 1995 as the country’s first outlet-based shopping destination.

Australian property giant Cromwell Property, which holds a 50% stake in Oyster, confirmed at its results announcement last week that it would support Oyster through any acquisition process.

Cromwell, which has $A11.5billion ($NZ12.1billion) under management across Australia, New Zealand and Europe, also backed Oyster’s investment in a 60% stake in the Tauranga Cross Shopping Centre last year.

Oyster had recently launched an industrial trust through new properties in the Wiri industrial area, south of Auckland.

The Meridian was opened in 1997 and is today headlined by national retailers Kmart and JB Hi-Fi, as well as South Island department store H&J Smith.

The mall and its parking lots span three separate titles and had a combined capital value in 2016, of $68.3million.

The centre, which covers almost a full hectare of high street shopping, boasts a 95% occupancy, with 65 tenancies across a lettable area of more than 16,000sqm and 650 car parks.

Dress Smart Hornby, in Christchurch, is the South Island’s only dedicated outlet centre.

Last year it boasted 99% occupancy, with 53 tenancies.

The largest property in the portfolio, Dress Smart Onehunga, has 101 tenants and is also trading at full occupancy.

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