Allianz Real Estate, the property arm of the German insurance giant, plans to provide €5 billion of property financing over the next few years, it announced at the annual EXPO REAL trade show in Munich this week. Against a general feeling of renewed optimism among delegates due to Europe’s calmer economic backdrop, Allianz’s new head of European real estate finance, Roland Fuchs, noted that Allianz’s pipeline of financing deals is “full.”
Speaking at the event, where some 36,000 participants have descended, Fuchs said Allianz Real Estate intended to make “full use” of its market opportunities and that “safe property investments” with long-term quality would remain its top priority. In real estate financing, the firm either has acted as a direct investment partner or teamed up with established banking partners to provide club financing. “But we don’t plan to replace banks or quickly seize market shares from them,” he insisted.
Apart from the US, Germany will remain a key market for Allianz’s lending platform. Meanwhile, France remains “attractive” since it is the largest market in Continental Europe for the firm and scored highly for transparency. Scandinavia and Central Europe also provide stable long-term opportunities, it noted.
Also at EXPO REAL, Allianz said it was expanding its investment horizons on the direct real estate investing side of the business in order to build up its overall real estate portfolio to €30 billion. As of December, it had €22 billion of real estate assets.
In a statement, Allianz said: “Given the very high prices of core properties in Germany, France and Switzerland, Allianz Real Estate increasingly is looking for alternative investments.” It noted that the Italian office market looks promising, and, over the past 12 months, it also has been investing in Poland. Apart from office assets in France and Italy, the firm mainly is looking at retail property investments in those two countries.
Allianz was not alone in presenting a generally positive outlook towards property investing at this year’s event. The organizers said the strong property markets in Central Europe – and in Germany in particular – had prompted a “positive mood” at EXPO REAL, despite differences in development between individual countries.
Jan-Willem Bastijn, head of EMEA capital markets at the UK arm of broker Cushman & Wakefield, said: “There was a positive atmosphere at EXPO REAL 2013 – we are on the brink of a turning point. The mood is continuing to improve, and we are seeing an increased willingness to do business right across the board.”
Another participant told PERE: “EXPO has been surprisingly lively. The mood is very upbeat and felt like the market is finally coming out of its five-year slumber.”