Doughty Hanson signs Zurich Italia

The private equity real estate firm has signed a pre-let with Zurich Italia in what has been billed as the most important leasing transaction in Italy in the last five years.

The Zurich Group, one of the largest financial services providers in the world, has opted for Doughty Hanson’s planned office project in Milan for its new Italian headquarters.

The agreement is a coup for Doughty having competed against 22 potential sites in the country to attract the top company.

In an announcement today, Doughty said it will construct a 306,775 square foot (28,500 sq m) building at the Maciachini development, which is a scheme managed by Italian partner, Europa Risorse.

Maciachini is a new office location currently under construction which includes approximately 1million square feet of office space, retail, and leisure facilities.
The first phase has already attracted Sorin, Montblanc, Mattel and Universal Music.

Yesterday, Doughty announced it had agreed the purchase of a residential development site in Brescia, Italy.

The Zurich deal is the latest for Doughty Hanson’s and Europa Risorse’s Solutions for Corporates programme in Italy, which matches the needs between owners and developers and occupiers of real estate. The project has so far provided office space in Italy for cosmetics giant L’ Oréal, and banking group, Unicredito Italiano. It has also bought surplus properties from Alcatel in Italy and Holtzbrinck and Grundig in Germany.

“This is one of the most important leasing transactions in Italy the last five years, both for its size and the fact that it is a build-to-suit project,’ said John Howard, head of Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate, in a statement.

In July, the firm closed its second real estate fund, Doughty Hanson & Co European Real Estate Fund II, with commitments of €560 million. The Fund has the potential to invest over €2 billion.

Investors in Doughty Hanson’s first European Real Estate Fund have received cumulative distributions from 14 realised deals, providing a return of 3.3 times on the fund’s cash investment and a gross IRR of 37 percent.

Doughty Hanson & Co European Real Estate Fund II has already made two investments in Italy for high-quality residential developments at sites in Rome, through Via Cavour Srl, and in Brescia.

Doughty Hanson & Co Real Estate and Europa Risorse are also completing Orti Antichi, a high-quality residential development of 110 apartments in an historical quarter of Milan.