Frasers Group has emerged as the frontrunner to buy a majority stake in Princesshay estate and shopping centre in Exeter, which is partly owned by the Crown Estate.

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The 50% stake in Princesshay, which is co-owned by the Crown Estate, could cost Frasers £40m

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group is eyeing a stake in Exeter’s Princesshay estate, making it the first joint venture deal between the retail empire and the King’s property company, The Times reported.

A retail property source told The Times that Frasers “is the frontrunner” to buy a 50% stake in the estate from real estate and investment management group Nuveen. The other half of the scheme is owned by the Crown Estate.

Nuveen put its share up for sale for a reported asking price of £40m this year after 10 years of ownership. 

Spanning 630,000 sq ft, the Princesshay estate includes the Princesshay shopping centre, home to more than 60 brands such as Apple, Levi’s, Oliver Bonas, Next and Zara, with a total income of over £9.1m a year.

The Crown Estate manages the King’s £16bn property portfolio, which includes the majority of Regent Street in the capital, a rural portfolio and Windsor Castle.

Frasers bought The Mall shopping centre in Luton from Capital & Regional for £58m and the Overgate Centre in Dundee for £30m last year.

Retail Week has approached Frasers for a comment.