Allianz Real Estate will this year look for debt opportunities in Ireland and Italy, according to its management.

The real estate arm of the German insurer will begin lending in the two countries, head of debt, Roland Fuchs, told a press briefing at MIPIM today.

The decision comes as the Allianz Group aims to increase its real assets allocation.

Regulation changes in Italy, he said, had made the country’s debt market more accessible for insurance firms and non-bank lenders.

Italian Allianz entities, he explained, could now back real estate debt strategies both domestically and abroad.

Improving real estate fundamentals in Ireland, he said, were as much a reason to consider lending opportunities as to invest equity.

Fuchs said Allianz Real Estate’s lending activity had been slowly rolled out, from Germany and France to Spain and The Netherlands last year.

Moves into other real estate sectors are unlikely for the time being, chief executive Olivier Piani said.

In France and Italy, the firm is looking to rebalance its portfolio, buying retail and selling office assets.

Indirect investment, such as the recent €120m commitment to a logistics fund managed by AEW Europe, is a strategy the firm may look to pursue further, Piani said.

He said the current market was the “cheapest time in history” to invest in real estate.