Lenders take a hit on St Helens shopping centre



Lenders who put up £35m to fund the acquisition of St Helens’ main shopping centre in 2006 are expected to take a hit on the loans according to BusinessDesk.com.

CBRE Britannica St Helens fund, which owns Church Square in the town, went into administration in January. The centre, which continues to trade, has around 70 shops including Boots, BHS, Superdrug and Rymans.

In a report to creditors, administrators from Grant Thornton said the senior lenders, who are not identified, will not be repaid in full.

The report said: “The LLP has suffered recently in light of the general downturn in the UK retail market and certain tenant failures.

“This led to the two-fold impact on the LLP of reducing rents and increasing void costs putting pressure on cashflow. Furthermore it has materially eroded the capital value of the asset, leading to a breach on the loan-to-value covenant in the facility documentation.”

Accounts for the year to June 30 2011, valued the shopping centre at £46m. The administrators said its value was now “significantly lower” but did not say how much for fear of influencing a future sale.

The CBRE Britannica St Helens fund is a sub-fund of the Britannica fund, managed by CBRE Global Investors, that fell into administration in September. It owns seven shopping centres including The Strand in Bootle and Spindles Town Square in Oldham.

Administrators of the St Helens site said they were undecided about its future. It might be sold on a standalone basis by the summer, or with the Britannica portfolio. Or, Grant Thornton may adopt a “hold strategy” for the property.