If the talks fructify, it will create the largest mall operator in the country and the people said the combined entity could be listed as a real estate investment trust (REIT) as part of the plans.
Blackstone-backed Embassy Office Park REIT earlier this year listed its units, which jumped 35% on the first day. Embassy Office Park is the first REIT in India to make an initial public offering and so far the only one listed on the National Stock Exchange.
Nexus Malls did not respond to an email sent on Monday seeking comment. The Prestige Group’s executive director for retail, Suresh Singaravelu, referred questions to Prestige Estates Projects chief executive Venkat Narayan Konanki, who did not respond to phone calls and text messages sent to his mobile and also an email till press time Tuesday.
Blackstone has been active in India’s real estate space since 2007 and its retail arm, Nexus Malls, has been adding to its portfolio since 2016. In 2017, Blackstone acquired Elante Mall in Chandigarh for an undisclosed amount.
Blackstone has said in the past that it wanted to expand the India mall portfolio. Real estate analysts said talks with Prestige could be a part of its aggressive retail push in India, which is witnessing a retail boom even as non-availability of quality mall space is hurting the plans of foreign and India brands.
According to a report by Anarock, Blackstone accounted for four of the five major private equity investments in India’s retail real estate in second- and third-tier cities during 2015-18 and the US giant shelled out $720 million for four deals. “Blackstone has a very big push in retail. With office they already have reached a scale and are aggressively looking for more acquisitions in retail,” said a retail analyst of a foreign real estate consultancy. “They are looking to buy more shopping centres in metros and tier-2 cities.”
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