AXA Real Estate has raised over €1.5bn for its fourth European real estate debt fund, the continent’s largest senior loan vehicle.

Europe’s largest non-bank lender said nine third-party investors and two AXA insurance companies backed the Commercial Real Estate Senior 9 fund.

Of the 11 institutional investors from the UK, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland, AXA Real Estate said seven were existing clients.

The investment manager is looking to raise €2.5bn from insurance companies and pension funds for the vehicle.

A Dutch insurance company has also awarded a separate £250m mandate to invest in debt.

Commitments to AXA Real Estate’s real estate platform totalled €10bn last year, the firm said, with €7.5bn invested.

AXA Real Estate said the fund would recycle capital once loans mature.

Isabelle Scemama, head of fund groups at AXA Real Estate, said there was demand from its clients for a product that allowed capital to be recycled.

“Real asset finance has now become an accepted asset class with a specific allocation from most institutional investors,” she said.

“The point is further underlined by the increased number of investors committing to this fund raise and the growth in the size of their allocations.”

The investment manager is using a feeder fund to issue rated notes in a bid to entice German investors into the fund.

AXA Real Estate was last year awarded an investment mandate for a €485m vehicle created by five Danish pension funds to invest in real estate debt.

Charles Daulon du Laurens, head of European sales, recently told IP Real Estate that pension funds were taking over from insurance companies as the largest group of third-party investors in AXA Real Estate’s debt platform.

“When we first opened up activity to third parties in 2010, our client base was dominated by insurers,” he said. “Pension funds have not only caught up but are now above insurers, accounting for slightly more than 50% of commitments.” 

As reported by IP Real Estate late last yearAXA Real Estate is moving into direct equity investments in infrastructure this year. The fund manager began investing in infrastructure debt last year on behalf of French insurer AXA.