Groupama Seeks About $660 Million for Champs Elysees Site

Groupama SA plans to sell a building on Paris’s Avenue des Champs Elysees, Europe’s most expensive shopping street, for more than 500 million euros ($660 million), according to three people with knowledge of the sale.

The French insurer hired Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. to offer 52 Avenue des Champs Elysees, a 1930s building that includes a Virgin Megastore, a Monoprix SA supermarket, a shopping arcade and offices, said the people, who declined to be identified because the sale is confidential.

Jones Lang’s head of French capital markets, Stephan von Barczy, declined to comment. Groupama didn’t return two telephone calls seeking comment.

Potential buyers have until tomorrow to submit initial bids, the people said. Dozens of international investors including sovereign-wealth funds and large international real estate asset managers have expressed interest in the property, the people said without identifying any bidders.

Groupama is selling assets after incurring a 1.8 billion-euro loss last year caused by writedowns for its Greek government bonds and other investments. The Paris-based company received a bailout from France’s state-owned bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations to help it meet capital requirements.

In December, the insurer agreed to sell its stake in office park operator Silic SA to Caisse des Depots-controlled Icade SA. It also plans to sell Gan Eurocourtage, its private-equity funds and U.K. insurance unit, and last week entered exclusive talks to sell most of the unit to Allianz SE.

Prime retail assets in locations like the Champs Elysees are attracting shoppers even as France’s economy falters. Stores in the best locations command higher rents, boosting values, as retailers compete for space to open flagship stores. Marks & Spencer Group Plc opened a new store at 100 Champs Elysees in November as part of a drive to expand in France.

The avenue, which runs from Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles de Gaulle, was Europe’s most expensive shopping strip in a global ranking compiled by Cushman & Wakefield Inc. in September. At the end of last year, zone A rents, an industry benchmark of the most valuable store-front space, varied from 5,000 euros a square meter to as much as 10,000 euros a square meter on the Champs Elysees, CBRE Group Inc. estimates.

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