EUROPE - ATP Real Estate is one of a number of institutional investors that have committed capital to a debut investment fund from German shopping centre developer ECE.

ECE has established a new fund management subsidiary and been raising capital for its debut fund from a number of institutional investors.

ATP Real Estate, the indirect property investment arm of Danish pension fund ATP, has committed €50m from its new €700m investment programme to the ECE European Prime Shopping Centre fund.

The closed-end fund will focus on the acquisition of existing shopping centres with re-leasing, repositioning or expansion potential in select continental European countries.

Michael Nielsen, managing partner at ATP Real Estate, said it was a good time to gain exposure to the retail space in continental Europe.

"ECE is definitely one of the best - if not the best - shopping centre operator in Europe," he said. "When they offered the possibility to invest together with them, we thought it was the right thing to do."

ATP Real Estate has also committed DKK300m (€40.2m) to Norden IV, an opportunistic real estate fund focusing on Copenhagen, along with fellow Danish pension fund PFA and Industriens Pension.

The fund sponsored by Ejendomsselskabet Norden will invest in higher-risk and development opportunities. It has already acquired Scala, a landmark property in the heart of Copenhagen, which needs significant redevelopment.

ATP already has a significant exposure to Danish real estate through its directly held domestic portfolio, but this is restricted to core assets.

"We always try to make sure we don't compete with ourselves," Nielsen said. "In our direct investment mandate, we do not have any permission to do opportunistic or more risky investments, so we have outsourced this part of the real estate business to a focused management team."

ATP Real Estate was involved setting up the first Norden fund in 2006. "The first fund has performed extremely well, so, in our minds, there were no doubts that we should raise a follow-up fund with them," Nielsen said.

"It is a good time to raise money with these people because they are operating more in the opportunistic risk space, and, for many other developers, it is very difficult to do any speculative development."

Nielsen said Norden IV had an advantage through the large volume of capital (DKK1.8bn) it had its disposal.

"We have a very good position in the market with this money," he said. "It is a big buying power in a small market."