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Colombia's Largest Mall and Mall Owner

Rendering of Viva Envigado Mall in Medellin Colombia

Executive Summary

  • Viva Envigado is in Medellin, Colombia and is the largest mall in the country.

  • The mall has 138k m² (i.e., 1.48 million ft²) of GLA, spread out amongst 390 shops and an office tower. Project costs were COP 660 billion (i.e., $228 million or $1,652 per m² of GLA).

  • Viva Malls is the largest owner of malls in Colombia.

  • Viva Malls is 51% owned by Exito, with the remining 49% owned by Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia (i.e., Bancolombia’s private real estate vehicle).

  • Exito is the largest retailer in Colombia with 2022 revenues of COP 19.7 trillion (i.e., $4.1 billion) across 619 stores.

  • FIC was recapitalized in 2016 with COP 770 billion (i.e., $256.6 million) by Bancolombia, Grupo Sura and the Canadian pension fund PSP.

Viva Envigado

The largest shopping mall in Colombia is Viva Envigado in Medellin. The mall is owned by the largest shopping mall owner in the country, Viva Malls. Viva Malls is majority owned by the largest retailer in the country, Exito. The mall is busy and attracts around 2 million visitors per month, making it one of the busiest malls in Colombia.

Viva Envigado opened to the public in September 2018. The mall was (and still is) anchored by Cine Colombia, Exito Hypermart, and Homecenter. Homecenter was discussed in a previous paper. Exito is discussed herein, and Cine Colombia is the largest Cinema company in Colombia with 47 multiplexes, 338 screens and 64,000 seats. The Cine Colombia in Viva Envigado is considered the top performer in Medellin, and top five in the country. Its success is attributed in part to the way in which the shopping mall integrates into the metro line making it easy for moviegoers to come and go.

Figure 1: Aerial View of Viva Envigado

Aerial View of Viva Envigado

The shopping mall presently has 138k m² (i.e., 1.48 million ft²) of GLA, spread out amongst 390 shops (including kiosks and bubbles) and an office tower. The publicly stated project cost was COP 660 billion. During the construction period the exchange rate to the dollar was around 2,900 giving an implied dollar-denominated project cost of $228 million (i.e., $1,652 per m² of GLA). The mall has the usual mix of tenants for regional malls in Colombia, and also includes a 6,000 m² (i.e., 64,500 ft²) outdoor amusement park operated by Happy City with sixteen rides and attractions.

Figure 2: Viva Park Amusement Park

Viva Park Amusement Park at Viva Envigado Mall

The shopping mall is undergoing expansion works. The new build will include 54,000 m² (i.e., 581,200 ft²) of new space, including 18,000 m² (i.e., 193,750 ft²) for the first IKEA in Medellin. These works are expected to conclude in 2024 with IKEA opening to the public in the second half of the year.

Viva Envigado has the benefit of having a single owner, rather than each shop being owned directly by the retailer as is the case with most malls in Colombia. The pros and cons of these divergent ownership structures, as well as why malls have historically been owned by many owners in Colombia, is discussed in a previous Emerging Real Estate insight assessing the Chipichape shopping mall in Cali, Colombia.

Viva Malls

Viva Envigado is owned by Viva Malls which is the largest shopping mall owner in Colombia. The company is 51% owned by Exito, with the remining 49% being owned by Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia (“FIC”). These important companies in Colombia are described later in this paper.

Exito began the Viva Malls brand in 2005 with a desire to bulk up, with additional retail, the excess land it owned where its supermarkets traded. The first Viva branded mall opened to the public in 2012 with the opening of Viva Laureles. Presently, Viva Malls contains 15 shopping malls comprising 483,977 m² (i.e., 5.2 million ft²) of GLA. Collectively, the malls receive 90 million annual visitors. Not included in these figures are an additional 18 smaller retail premises the company owns and operates.


Exito is the largest retailer in Colombia with 2022 revenues of COP 19.7 trillion (i.e., $4.1 billion). It operates 619 stores (i.e., 1.04 million m²) in three countries (e.g., Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay), with 422 of those stores being in Colombia.

The company was founded in 1949 in Medellin, Colombia as a textile business. In 1972 the company transitioned to a supermarket business and began adding new stores a few years later. After the company was listed on the Bogota stock exchange, the French company Casino purchased 25% of the shares outstanding in the late-1990s. At one point Casino owned 67% of the company, and today has a smaller yet still controlling stake in the company.

Figure 3: Historic Photo of Exito Storefront

Historic Photo of Exito Storefront

Exito is embarking to be the first Colombian company to be listed on public exchanges in Brazil and America. The listing processes have begun and will lead to heightened reporting standards in order to satisfy the requirements of public companies in America. The purpose of the listing is to expand the shareholder base, and improve liquidity of the shares. After the listings, Casino will be the largest shareholder directly controlling 34% of the company. Grupo Pao de Acucar (“GPA”) would own 13%, and is a Brazilian retail company controlled by Casino. Therefore, Casino will effectively be left with 47% of the company post-listings.

Fondo Inmobiliario Colombia (“FIC”)

FIC was initially capitalized in 2009, and received additional funding in 2016 with a COP 770 billion (i.e., $256.6 million) investment by Bancolombia, Grupo Sura and the Canadian pension fund PSP. Exito contributed 14 assets, valued at COP 1.6 trillion (i.e., $533 million), in exchange for a 51% stake. The valuation of the malls contributed had an implied cap rate of 8.7%. Exito received cash in the transaction, to balance the scales, and achieve the desired final shareholding breakdown between the parties.

In July 2022, Bancolombia announced that it had acquired PSP’s 30.11% interest in FIC, bringing its total holding to 80.07%. For these shares, Bancolombia reportedly paid the Canadian pension fund COP 805 billion. Based on the publicly available data, the initial shareholder contributions and ownership percentages are described in Figure 4. Post-transaction, Bancolombia was left with 80% of FIC, with the remaining 20% held by Grupo Sura.

Figure 4: 2016 FIC Ownership and Contribution Figures

2016 FIC Ownership and Contribution Figures

PSP, the Canadian pension fund investor, based on the information available publicly, generated an acceptable investment IRR both in peso (23%) and dollar (16%) terms. The dollar returns were affected by unfavorable currency swings in the peso relative to the dollar. The returns in the chart below exclude taxes and fees, related to the transaction, which PSP would have paid along the way. The fees likely would have been substantial and had a materially negative effect on the actual realized returns. The chart assumes further that all of the PSP contribution was invested in 2016, but it's more likely that the amount was invested in tranches over time, and this would have had a favorable influence on the realized return.

Figure 5: 2022 Estimated IRR for PSP’s Investment

2022 Estimated IRR for PSP’s Investment

Beyond Viva Malls' properties, which represent about half of FIC’s portfolio, the company has an additional 217k m² (i.e., 2.34 million ft²) of GLA in 22 cities, across 168 properties, valued at over COP 4.35 trillion (i.e., $895 million).

Figure 5: FIC Property Highlights

FIC Property Highlights




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