AXA Investment Managers-Real Assets has bought its first healthcare properties in Italy.

The investment manager invested €180m ($192m) in a portfolio of eight acute care hospital facilities in northern Italy.

The 80,000sqm portfolio, in Piedmont and Lombardy, was sold by private hospital operator Policlinico Di Monza in a sale-and-leaseback deal.

AXA IM said it bought the portfolio for a 50/50 joint venture between AXA Insurance Companies and Medical Properties Trust (MPT), a US healthcare REIT with which AXA has previously invested in Spain.

Alessio Lucentini, head of asset management and transactions in Italy, said the investment manager was a firm believer in the long-term growth prospects of Italy’s healthcare sector and would “continue to monitor further investment opportunities.”

“As our first healthcare acquisition on behalf of clients in Italy,” he said, “the purchase of this portfolio is indicative of our confidence in the Italian healthcare sector, which is underpinned by a number of compelling socioeconomic factors, such as a growing elderly population.”

AXA IM has agreed an option to expand its relationship with Policlinico Di Monza through further acquisitions.

The company is building a 36,000sqm Spanish hospital for a large US pension fund and MPT.

The manager bought a 4,300sqm development plot in Valencia to build the medical facility.