EUROPE - Behringer Harvard, the US-based international commercial property investment fund specialists, has extended its European range with several acquisitions in Central Europe.

The properties will form part of a joint venture between Behringer Harvard's own Behringer Harvard Opportunity REIT and the recently-formed St Wenceslas Property Fund.

New additions to the portfolio include a retail property in Hungary and five retail properties and logistics centre in the Czech Republic.

The Behringer Harvard Opportunity REIT is a geographically-diversified fund now holding 22 Central European assets and is designed to target high-growth international markets.

Its strategy is to build a portfolio of properties which will be attractive to international institutional investors but which would otherwise be too small a property to invest in directly.

Behringer Harvard believes Eastern and Central Europe offer better investment potential for institutional investors than more mature property markets.

"The aggregated portfolio has the potential to achieve valuations that provide an attractive premium over the value of the individual assets due to the economies of scale benefits the buyer realises," said Robert Aisner, president of Behringer Harvard.

"These properties are attractive investments located in areas where many retailers expect the growth rate to surpass more developed markets in the United States and Western Europe," Aisner explained.

The acquisitions mean Behringer Harvard now manages some €5.9bn in real estate assets around the world and coincide with the recent opening of a permanent European office in Germany to operate as its European centre.

"We expect our European office to position the company for continued growth through strategic investments in Europe. We always manage our international real estate assets by leveraging local expertise, and a European base of operations will make that easier," said Aisner.