Zurich Insurance Group’s Italian arm has mandated UBS Asset Management with €400m to invest in European office, retail and industrial assets.

The Zurich Italy Real Estate Fund (ZIREF) will be managed by UBS on behalf of Zurich Investments Life.

Cornel Widmer, head of real estate at Zurich, told IPE Real Estate that the 15-year fund will focus on the central business districts of Milan and Rome.

“We are looking to build a diversifed portfolio and so we want to increase our investment in Italy,” he said.

Current uncertainty surrounding Italy’s financial industry, he said, has not deterred the insurance company from investing.

“We know there are uncertainties with the banking system,” Widmer said.

“But even during the crisis, Italy has been quite resilient to shocks, with less international capital around that creates volatility.

“Players are largely local and they generally take more of a long-term view.”

Widmer said that, while 50-70% of the fund is to be invested in Italy, it could also turn to France, Spain and Switzerland.

Marco Doglio, head of UBS Global Real Estate in Italy, said the mandate represented the second time the Italian fund management platform had been selected by an insurance company.