GLOBAL - Catella Real Estate is set to join with Bank Sarasin, the Swiss private bank, to launch what it claims to be the world's first real estate fund investing solely in sustainable properties in European cities.

Sarasin Sustainable Properties-European Cities, which aims to achieve an annual return of 5-5.5%, will be offered through a German Spezialfond, targeting Swiss pension funds.

The fund will select the cities based on their property market cycle and also on the soundness of the overall economic and social criteria.

Catella said that while many Swiss pension funds already held real estate in their portfolios, investment opportunities were increasingly limited.

The company said international real estate investments helped diversify portfolios in such conditions and offered good protection against inflation.

Apart from location, energy efficiency will also be a key factor in capital appreciation, given the rising energy prices and tighter regulations with regards to energy consumption, the company said.

The fund will only invest in office and commercial properties in Germany, France and the Nordic countries at the initial stage. Development projects will be added later.

Catella Real Estate manages a real estate portfolio worth more than €1bn.