GP Investments Looks To Exit Brazlian Shopping Malls

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – GP Investments (GPIV11.SA), the largest Latin American private equity firm, will exit its investment in Brazilian shopping mall operator BRMalls (BRML3.SA) to focus growth on other business units, O Estado de S. Paulo said on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the situation.

GP Investments, which late on Monday said it would divest its 7 percent stake in consumer goods maker Hypermarcas (HYPE3.SA), will use proceeds from both sales to replenish the capital base of units hard-hit by the global financial crisis, Estado said.

The Bermuda-based firm, which is controlled by Brazilian partners and mostly invests in Brazilian companies, could raise up to 500 million reais ($287 million) from the Hypermarcas sale, Estado said.

GP could sell its stake in BRMalls, the largest Brazilian operator of shopping malls, either to U.S. billionaire Sam Zell or to investors in the domestic equity markets, Estado said.

The paper said the private equity firm needs cash for two companies it controls — Magnesita, an industrial-minerals producer, and Santo Antonio International, a U.S.-based drill servicing company.

A spokeswoman from a public relations company representing GP and Hypermarcas did not reply to voice messages left by Reuters seeking comment on the Estado story. Calls made to Rio de Janeiro-based BRMalls were not immediately answered. ($1=1.7436 reais) (Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)