MEXICO CITY — Bal Harbour Shops could offer roughly $350 million for Panama’s beleaguered Soho Mall, which is crumbling after a U.S. money laundering probe against owner Abdul Waked, said a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Miami luxury mall operator was expected to join several other potential bidders from Panama, Brazil and the U.S. set to table non-binding offers by Thursday, the source told WWD.
He said the bidders will then have access to a “data room” to conduct due diligence and present their final offers by Dec. 31.
A Bal Harbour spokeswoman declined comment.
The assets on the block include the 100-store Soho Mall, which is home to the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton. The group also features three high-end office towers, two of which were being built to host Central America’s first Ritz Carlton and a casino by Spain’s Egasa, and which now sit idle.
Colombian bank Bancolombia is structuring the sale, which includes M&A and real-estate advisers Luxury Retail Partners and CBRE Capital as well, said the source, who requested anonymity because the talks are private.
The mall and other assets are reportedly worth $360 million to $380 million but the source said Bal Harbour Shops’ owners the Whitman family may offer around $350 million.
“The value of much of the operation is under construction and revenues are falling as many stores have closed,” said the source, adding that the mall’s retail tenants hope a luxury mall operator will buy the 355,000 square-foot facilities instead of another, less experienced investor.
On May 5, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, charged Soho Mall’s owner Abdul Waked and nephew Nidal Waked of laundering for international drug cartels, seizing their assets, including Grupo Wisa, which operated the Felix department store and a growing upscale retail and perfumery operation in Central America and Colombia. Felix is undergoing a separate sale process.
Waked and Wisa have denied any wrongdoing.
Located in Panama City’s chic new financial district, Soho Mall is home to Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Bottega Veneta and Salvatore Ferragamo, among other luxury houses, all of which are battling with import restrictions.
U.S. appointed trustees have issued a temporary operating license expiring next January to allow the sale.
Sources have also said the mall, which opened in May 2015 after a $360 million investment, needs an $80 million facelift to better compete with archrival Multiplaza.