FINLAND - Tapiola has hailed as "rare opportunities" the acquisition of two prime office buildings in the country's capital of Helsinki and a second city, saying it allows it to access an undersupplied market.

The assets, one each in capital Helsinki and Tampere, have a combined value of €38.5m.

They are both fully let and located in the respective cities' central business districts.

The seller is Swedbank subsidiary Ektornet, set up to manage mainly US and Baltic distressed assets worth SEK1.7trn (€199.9bn) repossessed by the Scandinavian bank.

Ektornet will have processed assets worth SEK10bn by the end of 2013 - but that will not necessarily be the size of the portfolio.

The AUM €2.6bn Tapiola Real Estate, which invests directly in Finland for the insurance firm's three operating units, has struggled to source prime assets for a target allocation of 13-20%, with all its overseas investments being indirect.

Describing the assets acquired this week as "very, very good", Kim Särs, director of real estate at the mutual insurer said: "Assets as good as these are rare. Unfortunately, there are not as many as we would like to see."

The deal includes what will be the insurance subsidiary's first airport-related acquisition.

Särs said the insurer was interested in both newly built assets and development projects, but that both were scarce.

The Finnish insurance market has undergone consolidation - Tapiola announced last week that it was to merge with Local Insurance, a move that will give the combined group 30% of the domestic market.

The re-entry of overseas investors into the property market in 2010 has increased transaction volumes, albeit not to pre-2008 levels.

The average real estate return for Finnish pension funds last year was 6%.