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HDFC Property Ventures Ltd is investing $20-25 million into South India's largest central business district (CBD) mall developed by Nitesh Estates in Bangalore. The move probably marks the $900-million HDFC Property Ventures' foray into retail infrastructure in a rather tight-market environment, sources said.

HDFC Property Ventures will pick up around 20-25% stake in the 6-lakh sq ft Nitesh Mall, which is being designed by Seattle-based Callison. Nitesh Mall, which is the Bangalore-headquartered real estate firm's first retail play, is estimated to be a Rs 300 crore project.

The Nitesh Mall will come up on a 5.5 acre patch located in proximity to hotel Leela Palace, off the Indiranagar 100-ft road that is considered one of Bangalore's high street retail hubs, with most big brands operating their flagship stores there. When contacted Nitesh Estates' director, development, LS Vaidyanathan declined to comment on the deal. HDFC Property Ventures CEO KG Krishnamurthy could not be contacted immediately.

The development comes at a time when private equity funds are believed to be staying away from real estate/retail investments on account of the weakening consumer sentiments and an economic slowdown. HDFC Property Ventures is Nitesh Estates' third PE partner. Last year, the firm attracted investments from New-York based Och Ziff Capital and Citigroup Property Investors, with the latter co-developing the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bangalore with Nitesh.

Nitesh Estates had earlier announced that it has identified property in southern cities of Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi for similar retails initiatives. Construction of the mall in Bangalore is expected to be completed by the end of 2009 with the project planned for luxury brands apart from a large format retailer as the anchor client.

                                                                             Courtesy: ET dtd 04-08-08 

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