Varde Partners cuts exposure to Greece; sells Trastor stake to Piraeus Bank

Investment fund Värde Partners has agreed to sell its 52 percent stake in Greek real estate investment company Trastor to Piraeus Bank for 98 million euros, reducing its exposure in the country sharply.

After the sale, the US fund will be present in the country, by holding almost a third of Lamda Malls, which owns the Golden Hall (Athens) and Mediterranean Cosmos (Thessaloniki) shopping centres in Greece. Officials have indicated that the malls are performing well notwithstanding COVID, remaining essentially fully occupied, and are generating cash for shareholders.

The sale of the Trastor stake to Piraeus Bank will take the lender's total shareholding to 97%, Varde Partners said in a statement.

Trastor owns a portfolio of 59 real estate assets in Greece with a gross asset value of over €315 million across the retail, office and logistics sectors, comprising more than 238,000 square meters of total leasable area.

Värde Partners initially bought its stake in June 2016, in a deal that formed part of Piraeus Bank’s wider restructuring plan. Together, the shareholders have taken a number of steps to transform the business, including appointing a best-in-class management team, enhancing the company’s governance framework and executing a comprehensive value creation plan.

“Over the last five years we have significantly increased the size and quality of the company’s real estate portfolio, successfully acquiring more than 40 high quality assets, divesting non-core properties and upgrading existing sites,” said Tony Iannazzo, Senior Managing Director at Värde Partners. “We have had an excellent partnership with Piraeus over these years and believe the company is well-positioned to capitalize on the economic recovery as Greece emerges from the pandemic.”

Since 2016 Trastor’s asset base has grown from 60 million euros to more than 315 million euros while substantially improving revenue and profitability, culminating in the recent resumption of its dividend for the first time since 2012.

Christos Megalou, CEO of Piraeus Bank, added: “This transaction will instantly enhance our fee revenue profile and further grow our know-how around the vibrant and rapidly growing real estate sector. Trastor is one of the top-performing real estate platforms in South Eastern Europe and will constitute an investment tool for Piraeus Group to capture the extensive upside that the Greek market provides. This is yet another value booster for our shareholders, in our journey to create the best-in-class bank in Greece.”

The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022 and is subject to customary approvals.