Aareal leads Polish retail refinancing

A six-bank club led by Aareal Bank has provided €650m of senior debt to refinance a large Polish retail portfolio owned by AREA and AXA. Aareal is the main lender, at €250m, with Helaba and Deutsche Pfandbriefbank each contributing €100m. Hypothekenbank Frankfurt – formerly Eurohypo – is refinancing €89m, alongside Santander’s subsidiary, Bank Zachodni (€70m), and Polish lender Bank Pekao (€41m).

The five-year debt has a circa 300 basis points margin. AXA and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) have provided a “top up tranche” of €55m. Eurohypo “had a natural interest to refinance”, according to Helaba’s international real estate finance head, Martin Erbe, as it led the original lending consortium of 10 banks, which provided €615m of acquisition financing.

A joint venture called Apollo-Rida – owned by what is now AREA Property Partners, the portfolio’s manager; Rida Development Corporation; and AXA REIM – purchased the 28 assets in May 2004 for more than €700m, hoping to profit from EU accession. The shopping centres, retail parks and hypermarkets are all anchored by retailer Metro. For Helaba, the deal stacked up because “the sponsor quality is good, and the property is spread all over Poland in good locations”, said Erbe.