Bolstering its presence across the pond, GE Real Estate Central Europe has spent $695 million to acquire a portfolio of Central European hypermarkets from French operator Groupe Casino. These multi-use retail properties, which have caught on in recent years in the U.S., are indoor centers with both supermarkets and department stores.

Last month's 957,714 sq. ft. deal will add 16 hypermarkets to GE Real Estate Central Europe's growing retail portfolio. GE has signed 10-year leases on each of the former Groupe Casino hypermarkets, which total 1.01 million in gross leasable sq. ft.

This acquisition follows several similar deals in recent years. In 2003, for example, GE bought 12 retail properties from Groupe Casino for $277 million. GE has also purchased dozens of retail properties throughout Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in recent years. Groupe Casino is selling its 19 Geant hypermarkets in Poland to Germany-based Metro Group, not to mention disposing of the Polish operations of its Leader Price supermarket chain to British supermarket chain Tesco.

“This 100% equity transaction rapidly accelerates GE's growth in the region. It will more than double our ownership of retail assets in Poland and make us the leading real estate investor in Central Europe,” says Karim Habra, managing director of GE Real Estate in Central Europe.