Bouwinvest Real Estate Investors and an unnamed institutional investor have entered a joint venture with Clarion Partners Europe to invest €300m in logistics markets across continental Europe.
Clarion Partners Europe, which was formed from the takeover of Gramercy Europe by Clarion Partners last year, will seek to assemble a diversified pan-European portfolio, primarily through developing assets.
Bouwinvest, which invests internationally on behalf of Dutch pension fund BpfBouw, has a history of investing with Clarion Partners in the US, but for the first time the two companies are partnering in Europe.
Clarion would not disclose the identiy of the second investor, but CEO David Gilbert told IPE Real Assets it was a “global investor”.
He added: ”We have a long relationship with Bouwinvest… this is an extension of that relationship for the first time into Europe.”
Clarion Partners Europe, led by Alistair Calvert, will look to build new assets and improve existing facilities in cities with limited supply, seeking to capitalise on the recent “acceleration of the structural changes that are underpinning the growth of e-commerce”.
Institutional real estate investors around the world have been striving to increase their exposure to logistics in recent years as the sector has been boosted by ecommerce, a trend that has been accelerated by COVID-19. Earlier this week, global logistics specialist GLP was able to raise €1.1bn for a new European fund.
Clarion’s acquisition of Gramercy Europe has enabled the New York-headquartered company to expand into European real estate by initially focusing on one of the most in-demand sectors.
“For the immediate future our focus [in Europe] is solely on industrial,” Gilbert said. “We see the greatest opportunity at the moment to focus on the place we’re seeing the most attractive fundamentals, demand from tenants, investor interest… and that happens to be in logistics.”
Clarion manages one of the largest portfolios of industrial property in the US, worth some $20bn (€16.8bn), and Gilbert said some of its “investors have been asking us for quite some time for other solutions to expand their investment opportunities in logistics and warehouse properties at the same time”.
Calvert has a significant experience in logistics and net-lease real estate in Europe, having originally set up the business – as ThreadGreen – in 2006 and launching a debut fund in 2007.
The company has continued to be active during the COVID-19 pandemic and earlier this month acquired a distribution warehouse in Spain.
Calvert told IPE Real Assets the new joint venture would be in line with recent acquisitions but it would have “more of a bias towards developing rather than acquiring existing assets”.
He added: “This portfolio will stabilise to a more core-type risk and it will include a majority of build-to-core transactions where we’re developing… in very good locations and constructing institutional quality logistics assets.”
Asked whether a widespread push into logistics by institutional investors would further increase competition in the market, Calvert agreed, adding: “But we’ve been doing this a long time – nearly for 15 years – and I think we have a big advantage over newcomers in that we can flex much more quickly between markets and strategies.”
He added: “It’s very important to understand the micro markets that investors are investing into… there are some markets that will get overbuilt during this period, but the majority there’s still record low vacancy and record occupier demand.”
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