Westfield’s Stratford CMBS to price under 100bps

Westfield launched a £750m securitisation today to refinance a £550m loan secured on Stratford City Shopping Centre, which will be the lowest priced European CMBS debt issued since the financial crisis. Advised by Deutsche Bank and Crédit Agricole and as revealed by Real Estate Capital (1.6.2014), the Australian shopping centre giant decided to refinance the flagship London mall via a CMBS, and the issue is expected to be priced substantially below 100 bps according to one source. It is an agency CMBS meaning a Westfield vehicle rather than the two banks is the issuer; Westfield is also acting on behalf of the centre's joint venture owners. The existing loan to be refinanced was taken out in 2011 and was thought to have been priced somewhere between 205 and 250 basis points over Libor - a keen margin at the time reflecting the quality of the asset and the sponsors. The previous lowest priced European CMBS since the crisis was the AAA tranche (up to 19% LTV) of the €1.07bn Taurus-2013, which priced at 105bps and was issued in May last year by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, held against a €2bn multi-family German residential portfolio owned by Gagfah. The £750m single loan collateralising Statford City Shopping Centre No 1 however, is a single tranche, AAA CMBS representing a 38.4% loan-to-value based on a May 2014 valuation of Stratford City by CBRE of c £1.95bn. It expected that take-up for the five-year CMBS agency loan will come around 60% from the UK with the remainder from Europe and the US. The loan will refinance the £550m facility put in place in 2011 arranged by Crédit Agricole, HSBC and Eurohypo, which held one-third and syndicated the remainder to Aareal Bank, AXA REIM, Bayern LB, MetLife, Credit Foncier, Deutsche Pfandbriefbank and Santander. The refinancing will allow Westfield and its JV partners to take around £2o0m out of the asset, although around £70m could be used towards an extension and investment into the centre. The 1.9m sq ft complex is owned by Westfield alongside partners Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Dutch pension fund manager APG. Marketing of the deal will begin this week with pricing expected at the end of the month or the beginning of next month. The centre currently has a 98.9% occupancy rate and a 6.6 years average unexpired lease term to first break.

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