Closed-end fund sales: A sign of things to come for Italy?

IdeA FIMIT’s sale of an Italian office portfolio could be a sign of things to come, according to market sources.

The società di gestione del risparmio (SGR) is looking for a buyer for five office properties near Milan held by the closed-end Atlantic 1 fund.

Innovation Real Estate Advisory and CBRE were recently jointly appointed to sell the portfolio, which generates annual rents of €23m.

Fully let to tenants including Italian energy giant ENI, the portfolio could reach as much as €300m, a source with knowledge of the assets estimated.

Observers told IP Real Estate at annual real estate conference MIPIM last week that, with many closed-end funds having 2005 and 2006 vintages, more fund managers are, a decade on, likely to look to offload assets.

Approved in early 2006, Atlantic 1 ticks that box.

With Spain seeing significant yield compression last year, Italy is viewed as the next stop for international investors.

Paolo Bellacosa, managing director of capital markets at CBRE Italy, said with the Italian commercial real estate market “growing in popularity”, a number of similar or larger portfolios are likely to come to the market.

BNP Paribas REIM SGR is selling 11 office assets in northern Italy let to the state from its Patrimonio Uno vehicle, a 2005 ‘vintage’ fund.

The fund was established as part of the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance’s real estate privatisation programme.

Funds with 10-year lives and conceived before the global financial crisis are, one source said, unlikely to find banks willing to refinance loans on old properties, making sales processes more likely.

The unlocking of Italian real estate held in the same hands for a decade will, however, require investors with the ability to create value from assets not by default considered prime, despite attractive tenant schedules.

Some investors, including Invesco Real Estate, are pursuing “build-to-core” strategies, buying assets in need of renovation or re-letting.

The firm last year bought a 6,200sqm office asset in Milan’s Via Sassetti for a separate account.

With prime assets in Milan few and far between, investing in development or in off-centre assets is a credible alternative, somethingAXA Real Estate has done, buying core assets for its Selectiv’ Immo account close to – but not in – Milan’s central business district.

The start of this year saw Partners Group complete its €233m purchase of two prime central Milan office properties.

Italian closed-end real estate vehicle Unicredito Immobiliare Uno was behind the sale of the Via Monte Rosa and Viale Sarca assets.

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