FRANCE - Dutch metalworkers' union Pensioenfonds Metaal en Techniek (PMT) has sold its 30% share of Le Balzac, a Paris office block, to Corio, the property firm 36.6% owned by the €215bn ABP.

Corio's acquisition comes as part of a recently announced strategy to sell its office holdings. Investor relations manager Ingrid Prins said: "Having the whole office will give us a better opportunity to sell."

She said PMT, which is the country's largest private-sector pension scheme  with assets of €34.5m and 12.5% invested in real estate, wanted to divest the property ahead of broader changes that will make it more difficult for pension funds to invest in the French market.

Corio already owns 20% of the shares and believes acquiring the remaining 40% shareholding from insurance giant Fortis should be relatively straightforward. 

"Fortis isn't under the same pressure to sell before the end of the year because it is not a pension fund," said Prins. "But we're already in discussions and we're positive - otherwise we wouldn't have announced it."

This purchase also comes amid speculation suggesting Corio will be put up for sale in the near future and just weeks after analysts urged ABP to sells its shareholding.  Stephan van Weeren, an analyst at Dutch bank Petercam, told IPE Real Estate at the time: "If the price is right, ABP won't see it as a bad proposition. In the long term, it's possible the fund might tend more towards private equity and less towards listed companies."