Retail Property - Freeport resumes marketing to cash in on factory outlet assets

Freeport has quietly resumed marketing its Freeport Limited Partnership, seen by the outlet centre developer as the preferred channel to offload its mature UK factory outlets.

Chairman Sean Collidge confirmed: 'It has been remarketed for the past three months and attracted a lot of interest. It's a question of timing. When we went out last time, the whole world was upside down.'

Against a background of worldwide economic uncertainty following terrorist attacks in the US, investors shunned Freeport's Limited Partnership, which launched 18 months ago, leading to the tax vehicle being suspended in March.

Freeport is seeking to realise£100 million from its mature centres, from a total£230 million UK outlet centre portfolio.

Selling equity stakes via the Limited Partnership would allow Freeport to retain a minority interest in its UK schemes and is, reported the company, 'our most favoured option for achieving the recycling of capital'.

The alternative of selling individual centres outright is also being considered if investors find Freeport's Limited Partnership no more attractive this time.

In Europe, where Freeport has shifted its development focus, a planning application has been lodged for a 255,000 sq ft (23,690 sq m) centre on the French/German border at Roppenheim.

Freeport Excalibur on the Czech/Austrian border, which opened earlier this month, and Freeport Lisbon, which will open in time for next year's Euro 2004 football championships in Portugal, will raise£38 million after construction costs.

This will offset a£27.6 million fall in the value of Freeport's centres as UK outlet centre yields moved to 6.75 per cent, following BAA's£173 million sale of its remaining stake in the McArthurGlen outlet business five months ago.

Freeport has announced a 26 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to£12.9 million for the year to the end of June.