Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2014 - Page 71

Upgrades Available In addition to new real estate, the company is also involved in the preservation of existing landmark buildings. Union Investment has gained a lot experience in refurbishing buildings from its existing stock. A prominent example is the repositioning of the former Unilever HQ in Hamburg which is now a multi-let building and comprises the company’s Hamburg headquarters. “The listed Emporio Tower received the LEED Platinum label for sustainable building last year. We would now like to offer the same approach to our institutional investors – a refurbishment fund with a special focus on sustainability,” La Pierre says. Union Investment Real Estate GmbH, Hamburg is one of the largest investment managers for real estate in Germany, having been active in the real estate business since 1965. It currently has assets under management of 23.3 billion euros in sixteen real estate funds. Union Investment Real Estate is Germany’s largest investment management company for open-ended real estate funds. “Union Investment offers open-ended real estate funds designed for private investors and institutional customers,” explains La Pierre. “The solutions for institutional investors include also funds with a thematic focus as retail or budget hotel. We also provide innovative and tailored concepts for investors with special requirements, such as service mandates and multi-manager concepts. Due to the different profiles of our funds, we look for a variety of different regions and lot sizes.” Core Competence La Pierre reports that investments in citycentre office space and business parks are “the mainstay” of the company’s investment strategy. “In addition, Union Investment is investing in logistics properties, shopping centres and business hotels in selected locations that offer the prospect of attractive returns over the medium and long term.” The company’s hotel portfolio consists of 29 properties with a current market value of €1.7 billion. Some €6 billion is invested in 38 shopping centres in Europe. “Since 2005 our average acquisition volume has been 1.7 billion EUR per year. With a focus on the strong Western European and North American countries, our investment goal for 2014 is again some two billion EUR.” Lutz Ehrhardt Photo: UPM city Ruskeasuo office sub-market, which enjoys direct main road access to Helsinki’s city centre and commercial district. Comprising four buildings and offering around 34,219 sq m of office space, the complex is scheduled for final completion in 2015. Another quite recent acquisition in Finland was the new Alberga B office building in Espoo which was acquired in 2012 for the company’s Europe fund. The vendor was Finnish project developer NCC Property Development. That same year, the company also acquired the Eventes Business Garden, an office development already 100% pre-let on a long lease. Also, the new headquarters of Outotec Oyj, a listed technology, engineering and plant construction company with a strong credit rating, is scheduled for completion by mid-2014. Union Investment is forward funding the project by Finnish developer Peab Oy, which offers some 14,133 square metres of rental space. “We would like to expand our high quality portfolio in Finland next year. The high-growth metropolitan region of Helsinki remains a key investment focus for us. We could also imagine investing again in project developments like we have done several times. Investments in project developments – via forward purchase – give us the chance to secure core properties which are not easy to find these days,” La Pierre lays out the game plan. Global Reach For more than a decade now, the company has been branching out to the world very actively. Since 2002, in particular, Union Investment has greatly expanded its investment reach, entering more than 20 new national markets and adding countries such as Mexico, Singapore and Malaysia to the more traditional European locations. Union Investment Real Estate is currently operating in 23 countries worldwide, with approximately 60 % of property assets located outside its domestic (German) market. With a share of some 42 %, the European markets outside of Germany are the main investment region. Union Investment operates through its own specialist teams in Hamburg, local offices in Paris, Madrid, New York and Singapore, and a growing network of strategic partners. Great Deal to Close the Year U nion Investment’s latest investment deal in Finland is the acquisition of the prestigious UPM-Kymmene Corporation’s head office in Helsinki. Announced in December, the contract covers a 15-year lease of the 12,426 square metre premises in the city centre, which Union Investment purchased for some EUR 74 million from UPM. Philip La Pierre, head of Investment Management Europe at Union Investment, comments that the company is very pleased to have had this rare opportunity to acquire a modern