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IPE special report May 2018

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Danish pension fund ATP invests €475m in Belgian real estate

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Danish pension fund ATP has bought a Brussels office property in a joint venture with local institution AXA Belgium.

The 90/10 partnership paid €475m for the North Galaxy asset in the north of the Belgian capital, let to Belgium’s Ministry of Finance on a long-term lease.

The deal is ATP’s first with AXA Real Estate, which will manage the 151,000 sqm property on behalf of the joint venture.

ATP Real Estate chief executive Michael Nielsen said the core investment matched the fund’s pursuit of “long and stable cash flows from well-located properties with low risk”.

He said: “We have previously announced that ATP Real Estate will increase its focus on this type of real estate assets in both Denmark and internationally.”

The joint venture bought shares in the company that owns the property from listed Belgian group Cofinimmo.

Late last year, Nielsen told IP Real Estate ATP was moving away from investments in funds and looking for greater, more direct control over its investments.

“We have moved away from fund investment, simply because we find that, by investing directly, we can be in better control – in terms of where we put our money, when we buy, how we manage the investment and when we exit it,” Nielsen said, adding that pricing for core deals – such as North Galaxy – was “getting more and more aggressive”.

ATP has a property allocation of DKK4.6bn (€616m), with 40% of this in direct investments in Denmark and 60% of it invested in Europe and the US.

Brussels investment volumes rose last year to €2.17bn, up 7% on 2012 and at its highest level since 2008, according to Savills.

Despite the city’s high vacancy (9.5%), the office sector has attracted international investors. In a joint venture with Hannover Leasing, Chinese institutional Gingko Tree paid €300m for the Belair scheme development.

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