S.Korean pension fund set to buy French shopping mall

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South Korea's state pension fund -- the world's fourth largest -- said Tuesday it would soon sign a deal to buy a controlling stake in a French shopping mall.

The National Pension Service (NPS) said negotiations were under way on its proposal to take a 51-percent stake in O'Parinor, a giant shopping mall north of Paris, for about 350 billion won (297.2 million dollars).

"We will soon sign the agreement" with Hammerson, a European real estate company, an NPS spokesman told AFP, declining to give details.

The two-storey shopping mall accommodates more than 220 stores including Zara, Mango, Tommy Hilfiger and Puma, according to Hammerson's web site.

The fund is also considering purchasing additional shares in the shopping mall, Yonhap news agency said.

If the contract with Hammerson is sealed, the fund will own overseas properties worth 3.5 trillion won, it said.

The fund, which manages total assets of 295 trillion won, has expanded its investment in overseas properties since 2006 to diversify its portfolio beyond fixed-income assets.

It bought HSBC's headquarters in London for 1.5 trillion won last year and an office building in Sydney for 750 billion won in January.

And it agreed in April to take over Berlin's Sony Center from a Morgan Stanley real estate fund for 850 billion won.

The fund posted its first-ever loss -- of 427 billion won -- in 2008 because of global financial turbulence but earned 26.24 trillion won last year.

Its investment in total real estate properties amounts to 5.5 trillion won at the end of June this year.

© 2010 AFP

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