Aspen Buys Ligad's Half of Yokneam Mall

A few days before Aspen had sold its half of Nazareth Mall for NIS 50 million

Aspen Properties (TASE: ASPT), a subsidiary of Aspen Building and Development (TASE: ASBD), announced on Sunday that it is exercising its right of first refusal and buying Ligad Investments & Building's (TASE: LIGD-M) 50% stake in the Yokneam Mall for NIS 25 million.

The transaction values the mall at NIS 50 million.

At present the Yokneam Mall generates rental fees of NIS 4.6 million a year. Aspen said it expects that sum to increase. Its annual rate of return is 10%.

The mall is located on Highway 70 and serves as the small, hi-tech-oriented town's main business center. It also serves as the central bus station of Yokneam.

The mall has 10,000 square meters of rental space and is 95% occupied. It also has 500 parking spaces on a single storey.

About 70,000 cars pass the mall on Highway 70 each day, a figure expected to increase dramatically after the road is linked to the Trans-Israel Highway.

This is Aspen's second transaction in the space of a  few days. The first was the sale of its 50% interest in the Lev Ha-Ir mall of Nazareth to Industrial Building Corporation (TASE: IBLD) for NIS 50 million. The Nazareth mall, which the deal priced at NIS 100 million, generates annual rental income of about NIS 5 million.

During the first three quarters of 2005, Aspen Building and Development lost NIS 15 million. Eliezer Fishman owns Industrial Buildings and used to control the Aspen group, but he sold the controlling interest to Shmayahu Reichman half a year ago for NIS 40 million. Fishman remains however an interested party in Aspen.