UNITED STATES - AIFAA, an investment company backed by 12 Swiss pension funds, has extended its real estate portfolio to Texas for the first time with the $82m (€54.8m) acquisition of the Wells Fargo Tower office building in Austin, Texas.

Christopher Duisberg, managing director for AIFAA (Foundation for International Real Estate Investments) at the firm's regional office in New York, said the property, which was 96% occupied at the time of purchase has a strong value-added positioning.

"We liked the diverse economy in Austin. You have the government, the University of Texas, high tech companies and energy-related firms all having a major presence in the region."

 "And over 30% of the leases in the property will come up for renewal in the next 12 months.  It's our opinion that most of the tenants will want to stay in a landmark property like the Wells Fargo Tower."

AIFAA now holds five properties in its US real estate portfolio, now valued at $200m but officials are keen to add to over the next couple of years by acquiring another $200m worth of properties.

The company is based in Zurich, Switzerland and is backed by capital from Swiss institutional investors including ASGA, the pension fund for Craft, Industry, Trading and Services SME and PVK, the Employee Provident Fund for the City of Bern.

The company has a core and value-added direct property strategy of investing in a mixture of office buildings, retail and industrial assets.

When the company first entered the real estate market in the United States a few years ago, it did so through placing capital in three commingled funds: office commingled funds managed by Hines and Broadway Partners and a residential fund run by AIG.

This strategy allowed AIFAA to get its feet wet in the US market and become more comfortable about investing in the region but all of its investing is now done through the acquisition of existing properties on its own.