HUNGARY - AXA Real Estate Investment Managers has opened an office in Budapest, headed by former DTZ executive John Verpeleti.

AXA said the initial acquisition focus would be on the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. "The team will also keep a watchful eye on emerging real estate markets elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe."

Verpeleti, who was named head of Central Europe in May, called the move a "very logical extension to our extensive presence in Western and Southern Europe, where close to 400 staff manage over €26bn of real estate assets".

Verpleti - who was formerly managing director for Central and Eastern Europe at DTZ - reports to Roddy Sloan, AXA REIM's global head of business strategy.

AXA REIM started investment activities in Central Europe in 2004. Since then, it has acquired the Dorotya Udvar office complex in Budapest on behalf of an institutional client and has been awarded the asset management contract for a major Warsaw office complex.