22 September 2016 – El Economista
The real estate arm of Allianz has arrived in Spain, attracted by the investment opportunities on offer here. Allianz Real Estate has just opened a branch in Madrid to track its operations in the Iberian Peninsula and take responsibility for the management of the properties owned by the group.
To lead the project, the firm has hired Miguel Torres, ex-Arthur Andersen, who has been linked with GE Capital Real Estate since 1995, according to the Commercial Registry. “After the recovery of the real estate markets, Spain and Portgual are once again in the focus of international real estate investors”, explained the CEO of Allianz Real Estate, François Traush, who highlighted that the incorporation of Torres into the team aimed “to identify attractive investment opportunities to allow us to continue constructing a diversified portfolio”, for our shareholders.
With more than 20 years of experience in the real estate and structured financing sectors, Torres joins the company from GE Capital in Mexico, where he served as Director General, leading a team of 50 specialists and an unit with almost €3,500 million in real estate financing. Prior to that, he held various management positions at GE entities in Madrid, New York and Stamford.
Allianz Real Estate’s portfolio contains €41,700 million in assets under management: €29,300 million in direct and indirect investments, plus loans amounting to €12,400 million, based on figures at 2015 year end, when it closed operations amounting to €7,400 million. Its goal is to reach the €60,000 million threshold “within the next few years”.
The company, which has subsidiaries in Germany, France, Italy – into which the operations in Spain will report -, Switzerland and the USA, includes the office in Madrid as part of its regional expansion.
Its investment aspirations cover almost the entire sector: from taking stakes in debt, to investing in listed companies, direct and indirect positions in financing and building a significant property portfolio.
It debuted as a lender in Spain a year and a half ago, with a loan for €133 million that allowed the Socimi Merlin to acquire the Marineda Shopping Centre, which, at the time, was the largest investment in this type of complex since 2008.
The strategic logic is two-fold. The low interest rate environment is causing insurance companies to dust off old commitments to property in light of the meagre returns being offered by public debt and the high capital consumption involved with other investments. Companies such as Mapfre, Mutua Madrileña, Santalucía, Reale and Línea Directa have acquired properties recently and are looking for opportunities, although their involvement as financiers is residual or non-existent, unlike the role performed by multi-national firms such as Axa and Allianz.
The sector hopes that Brussels will smooth the path, easing the burden of callable capital, given that the Juncker Plan itself wants to involve infrastructure projects that Europe needs.
In addition, the real estate sector is presenting itself as an alternative that offers higher returns, especially given the security of their operations. The high expectations of growth in terms of office rents and a notable increase in the number of small operations, is converting this segment of the market into one of the most attractive options. In the case of the most cutting-edge buildings and those located in prime areas, rents may increase by up to 22% over the next three years. For the other more modest assets, the annual yield amounts to around 7%. Similarly, yields of commercial premises amount to around 7.5%,and rents are expected to increase by an average of 2.4% p.a. in Madrid over the next two years.
Original story: El Economista (by Eva Contrerar and Alba Brualla)
Translation: Carmel Drake