NETHERLANDS - Dutch pension fund ABP has expanded its base in European hospitality sector with the acquisition of three high-end Belgian hotels.

The €211bn civil service scheme has not disclosed the value of the deal, which carries a €70.5m mortgage, but the acquired portfolio comprises the 262-room Renaissance Brussels Hotel, the 218-room Brussels Marriott Hotel and the 57-apartment Marriott Executive Apartments.

ABP made the purchase via a joint venture with US firm Host Hotels and the real estate investment company of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).

"All of our real estate investments, both listed as well as non-listed, are done indirectly, through funds," said Robert-Jan Foortse, real estate portfolio manager with the pension fund.

"In this case, the 'fund' only has three partners, so it is called a joint venture. Other acquisitions in the hotel sector would be done through this venture or if they do not fit the investment criteria for this venture, through another fund."

Although its existing hospitality portfolio is largely concentrated in mature European markets, Foortse indicated this reflected available opportunities rather than a specific market focus.

"We are definitely interested in expanding the portfolio into other countries as well," he said. "We would typically take a look at all opportunities that come up."

ABP's current portfolio includes hotels in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Venice, Warsaw and Belgium and most of ABP's hospitality investments are in the premium hotel sector.

That said, Foortse did not rule out further expansion into the mid-priced segment if "the right opportunity presents itself" and the scheme has already invested in the mid-price-dominated Australian Mirvac Wholesale Hotel Fund.

Foortse said the fund had also expanded into the budget segment, although it is withholding details of its investment in this segment for the time being.

"The recent negative returns have so far not lead to a change into our long-term approach to our real estate investments," he said.