Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke has been sold to an American pensions company for £280million.

Grosvenor Group, which built the centre and opened it in 2002, has sold the centre to TIAA-CREF an American company specialising in pensions and insurance for teachers, academics, researchers and people in the cultural or medical sphere.

But bosses at the one million sq ft award-winning complex – which celebrates its 10th anniversary next month – say it will be business as usual despite the change in ownership.

Centre director Steven Connolly said: “This is a positive story for Basingstoke. For a company the size of TIAA-CREF to choose us over other towns and cities in the UK shows confidence in the future growth and recovery of the economy here.”

Anthony Butler, director of real estate investment management at TIAA-CREF Asset Management UK Limited said: “Festival Place fits with our long-term strategy to invest in high-quality, regionally dominant shopping centres.

“We look forward to working with the local council and community to improve the Festival Place experience for customers and retailers alike.”

Tony Christie, head of retail at Grosvenor Fund Management, added: “The sale of Festival Place to TIAA-CREF reflects the winding-down of the Grosvenor Festival Place Fund, which soon comes to the end of its life. We will now be looking to reinvest Grosvenor’s share of the sale proceeds back into the UK retail sector.”

Sorrel Comley, public relations executive for the Grosvenor Group, told The Gazette that the fund had been set up in 1999 to invest in Festival Place and was supposed to end in 2014. It had three investors, one of which was Grosvenor.

She said: “Earlier this year, the investors were asked whether they wanted to extend or go with the deadline. They looked at all the options, including marketing to see what kind of investors would be interested.

“It was not the case that there was a problem with it or they were trying to get their money out. It was a long-term development for us.”

Ms Comley said Grosvenor takes care over who it sells its assets to.

Festival Place, which has 170 shops, will continue to be managed by agents Jones Lang Lasalle.

The full name of TIAA-CREF is Teacher Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund. It manages assets worth $481billion.