EUROPE - Aberdeen Property Investors has begun buying real estate again for its core pan-European institutional fund now that it believes many of the continent's prime markets have bottomed out.

The Aberdeen European Balanced Property Fund acquired two real estate assets in Finland last month: an office building with retail space in Turku, and a shopping centre in Kokkola.

They represent the first deals for the fund since it invested in French high street retail units in September 2009 and a logistics acquisition in Finland in October 2008.

Deputy fund manager Sandrine Vergallen said the firm believed a number of prime real estate markets in Europe had bottomed out and, consequently, there were a number of opportunities for core pan-European investors.

The fund is particularly positive on Finland, especially the office and retail sectors, but also believes that prime French real estate has reached the bottom of the market.

Vergallen said Aberdeen had seen "some transactions with surprising prices" for prime assets France in the first quarter of 2010, with investors often bidding above asking prices.

The latest acquisition was sold to the fund by Dutch retail investor Redevco for an undisclosed amount.

Turun Sampotalo is located along the principal shopping street in Turku, was constructed in 1938 and is fully-let with a leasable area of approximately 9,700 square metres.

The main tenant, City of Turku, occupies the office floors on a long-term lease.

"The combination of a long office lease with a strong covenant and a prime retail location meets the investment requirements of the Aberdeen European Balanced Property Fund," said fund manager Nico Tates.

The fund also acquired the Chydenia-I shopping centre in Kokkola from Rockspring Property Investment Management in February.

To date, Aberdeen European Balanced Property Fund has raised €262m in equity from institutional investors and is looking for new investment opportunities in several European countries.

The fund currently has properties with a total asset value of some €295m under management in Finland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Aberdeen said the fund had further deals in the pipeline in all of these countries.