Prime Retail, Athena form $500 million European JV A new joint venture between Prime Retail Inc., Baltimore, and The Athena Group, New York, could develop, own and operate up to $500 million of outlet centers throughout Europe. The "Athena/Prime Retail Europe" venture will brand the centers "Prime Outlets." Athena is putting up 80% of the initial capitalization and Prime is contributing 20%.

"We expect that our expansion into Europe will allow us to develop a reciprocal leasing program that will bring many of the United States' most popular outlet brands to European consumers while also bringing famous European brands into our domestic tenant mix," says Prime Retail's CEO Abraham Rosenthal.

Taipei's world's tallest tower to have big retail presence When the 101-story Taipei Financial Centre in Taiwan's new central business district becomes the world's tallest office building, sometime in 2002 or so, it will also feature a 750,000 sq. ft. retail, dining and leisure mall, scheduled to open a year in advance of the office portion in late-2001.

Planned to resemble a European arcade, the mall will feature curvilinear aisles opening onto a civic plaza and a 100-ft.-high skylight. The retail development is being designed by FRCH Design Worldwide, based in Cincinnati.

South Korean activity heats up with hotel, office deals Suddenly it seems Korea has come alive, thanks to the South Korean government's opening of real estate markets to foreign investment last June. Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels is now marketing the Hilton International Seoul for sale for owner Daewoo Group. A recent $215 million deal with General Mediterranean Holdings for the hotel collapsed. "The last high-profile sale in Asia took place in 1996 with the sale of the JW Marriott in Hong Kong," says Jones Lang managing director Antony Karp.

On the office front, New York-based Colliers ABR and Seoul-based Riesen Capital Co. sold off the 470,000 sq. ft. Coryo Finance Center in downtown Seoul for about $85 million. It was the largest building sale since the government's recent action. The 22-story tower will serve as Hewlett-Packard's new Korean headquarters. "This sale could well signal the start of a major push by American companies to become players in South Korean real estate marketplace," says Peter Riguardi of Colliers ABR.

Hines, Brazilian firm develop big center in Sao Paulo Houston-based Hines and Brazilian-based Itausa Empreendimentos S.A. have formed a joint venture to develop Panamerica Park, a 440,000 sq. ft. office/high-tech service center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Funding is through the $410 million Hines, Morgan Stanley and Trust Co. of the West Emerging Markets Fund I (EMF I).

"Our marketing strategy is to attract multi-national tenants who require well-located office space with advanced telecommunications and building systems," says Panamerica Park project manager Roberto Amorim. The park features seven office buildings and two service-center buildings surrounded by covered and surface parking.

Lend Lease global invests $50M in Portuguese center Lend Lease Global Properties, a Luxembourg-based global real estate opportunity investment company, purchased a 50% interest in the Arrabida Shopping Centre in Porto, Portugal. The center will be jointly owned with Lend Lease Europe, which purchased the remaining 50% interest. The fund's investment in the shopping center totaled $50 million. The 610,000 sq. ft. Arrabida Shopping Centre, opened in 1996 and 98% leased, is one of the largest of its kind in Portugal.

South Africa's new stability bodes well for markets According to Gil da Silva, head of research at Old Mutual Properties, the return of business confidence to South Africa will usher in improved trading conditions for local retailers and manufacturers. "Greater global stability and falling interest rates are spurring a widespread revival," says da Silva. "All property sectors will most likely benefit, but office space should benefit most because of shortages of prime and A-grade accommodation."

Old Mutual Properties is the real estate arm of Old Mutual, Africa's largest life assurance company which has substantial holdings in South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent. Currently the firm is undertaking a major development program including $1 billion in new shopping centers.

Knight Frank publishes new Global Office Report London-based Knight Frank has released its latest Global Office Report, providing profiles of leading world centers. Here are a few of its findings:

Europe: There is increased investment within Europe, and non-European investors are finding a more transparent and less-risky market. Strong demand coupled with slow new supply is putting pressure on rental rates. Investment activity has been restricted by a shortage of good-quality investment stock on the market.

Asia & Australasia: Southeast Asia may have passed the worst of its crisis. Most cities still suffer from office space oversupply. Australia is expected to see a slowdown in its economy and overall property markets.

Africa: Development is limited to pre-let schemes, which has led to rental growth in certain locations.