GERMANY - Berlin Airport Authority and Segro have agreed the development of a 38-hectare business and logistics park next to Berlin's Schönefeld airport after the London-listed property investor acquired the land for €34m.

Segro, which has Shropshire local authority'S pension fund as a shareholder, will construct the €120m park next to Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, a terminal under construction. The expanded airport will in 2011 replace the three which now serve the city.

The firm is marketing the deal as evidence of its aim to increase its presence specifically in Germany as well as in continental Europe generally. It also noted the significance of its involvement in an infrastructure project at the launch stage, with an option on 24 additional acres before 2011.

Under the agreement, the airports authority will provide the infrastructure for the project and construction will take place in three phases, with initial infrastructure work beginning mid-2008. SEGRO spokesman Michael Waring has ruled out its direct investment in infrastructure. "We will occasionally directly seek to improve local infrastructure to facilitate our sites but direct infrastructure investments themselves are absolutely not what Segro does," he said.

"We want to be where our customers want to operate - major business centres, distribution hubs, airports, seaports, major European road junctions and other transport arteries - along Europe's freight corridors. We are not always located right beside major air or sea ports; simple good general transport connections may be sufficient. It's a case of what works best for our occupiers," he added.

"In many Western European locations, proximity to a major airport or inter-modal transport hub is a clear advantage to us, but in Poland some of our sites are in the absolute prime road locations, partly because the planning regime can be more flexible in Eastern Europe."

Segro's strategy is to focus on high-growth areas with strong transport infrastructures.
Despite hype around proximity to a hub serving 20m people, the firm last week stressed its cautious approach to the development, which will involve only "an element" of speculative build.

In its earlier incarnation as Slough Estates, Segro partnered pension funds in property ventures, including one with BA pension fund for part of its Wynyard development in the northeast of England.