Norwegian hotel investor and businessman Petter Stordalen was being credited with pulling together a major real estate deal that ranks as his biggest ever. It involved the sale last weekend of Sektor Gruppen, which owns and runs 34 shopping centers in Norway, most of them in the Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger areas.
The sale for nearly NOK 13 billion (USD 1.7 billion) to Citycon of Finland was negotiated, Stordalen told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Wednesday, over three lengthy dinners and fine wine at a luxurious hotel in the Swiss Alps, one of Stordalen’s own high-end hotels in Oslo and at his Oslo home.
“This was like arranging a party, and I’ve done that for many years,” Stordalen told DN. “You have to be a good host and think about your guests. There has to be a good atmosphere and good chemistry among the partners. And you have to build up confidence.”
Stordalen, chairman of Sektor, owned 30 of the real estate group along with the wealthy Johannson family (37 percent) and the Varner family (33 percent). The Johannsons also control NorgesGruppen, Norway’s dominant grocery store retailer, while the Varners control such clothing stores as Dressman, BikBok and Cubus.
Some of the properties controlled by Sektor were among the first Stordalen invested in more than 20 year ago. “I had to put my feelings aside,” said Stordalen, age 52. “I still get goosebumps when I visit CitySyd (in Trondheim), that’s where it all started, and Downtown (in Porsgrunn) is where I grew up.
He thinks he found “the perfect owner” for Sektor, however, that can develop the shopping centers “and maybe bring in something new.” Stordalen, whose wife Gunhild is recovering from a life-threatening disease, denied any of the sellers needed the money and that they instead simply got a good offer after buying out Swedish partner Niam earlier this year.
Gunhild Stordalen, meanwhile, plans to open the next Eat conference in Stockholm next week. Eat is an organization she founded to gather national and international researchers, politicians, organizations and companies to discuss strategies for combining more production of healthy food with sustainable development and public health initiatives.