ITALY - Italian bank UniCredit has sold 72 commercial properties worth approximately €800m to a real estate investment fund run by Italian fund manager Fondi Immobiliari Italian (Fimit).

The portfolio includes its numerous banking branches in Italy, as well as trophy assets such as the bank's Broggi head office in Milan's Piazza Cordusio.

UniCredit has sold 62% of the units in the fund to institutional investors for €280m and expects to dispose a further 5% by the end of February 2009. The bank will maintain a 33% stake in the vehicle.

According to UniCredit, the move is consistent with the objective of "value creation and rationalisation of the group's real estate portfolio."

The fund will have a 15-year term and will support a long-term rental agreement with URE, which will last 18 years and can be extended by a further six years.

The agreement is designed to give UniCredit the flexibility needed to manage its commercial banking network. The bank will have a right of first refusal, providing the option to buy back properties that are deemed of strategic importance to the company.

UniCredit Markets and Investment Banking are acting as financial advisors on the transition on behalf of UniCredit Group, while Leonardo & Co. is advising Fimit.