Amsterdam-based merchant bank, Kempen & Co, which has just over e600m in property assets under management, has acquired Global Property Research (GPR), the property research and index specialist in Amsterdam. Kempen is determined to develop its new protégée.
“Joining Kempen gives us room to grow,” says GPR analyst, Jeroen Beimer. “ Kempen has a good reputation and the resources, both in terms of manpower and knowledge, to allow this. We can now effectively do everything in-house.”
GPR will also be assured continuity and transparency in its activities as a consultant since Kempen’s knowledge of trading, sales and acquisitions means that GPR will be able to offer more wide-ranging advice than it could previously. “Before the takeover, our ability to advise and undertake research was somewhat limited,” Beimer comments.
For Kempen, the acquisition allows for greater specialisation in the property field, something they have been looking to do. “Since the property market remains very small as an investment class and therefore there are very few actual specialists around, Kempen is happy to take on the extra manpower. We are keen to improve our status as a property specialist, ” says Hans de Haan, managing director of equities sales, trading and research at Kempen.
Kempen now has about 30 staff dedicated to property across its core activities of corporate finance, capital management and equities sales, trading and research and claims it now ranks alongside Lasalle and Morgan Stanley in the Netherlands as a property management company.
The acquisition also brings to Kempen GPR’s extensive database of unlisted and listed property companies as well as extensive contacts in the industry. Says de Haan : “What is important is that 98% of property companies are unlisted, so the investment opportunities are vast.”
Kempen is also excited by the benchmarking selection expertise that it will acquire from GPR. “Benchmarking is becoming more and more important for property fund managers and we are definitely more benchmark- conscious,” comments de Haan.
GPR will continue to operate as an independent business unit for indices. “There will be no change in the set-up for indices,’ says Beimer. “Many people recognise GPR for its indices and we don’t want to throw that away.” Four of GPR’s eight staff will continue to work in this unit with the others joining Kempen’s corporate finance division. Furthermore, Kempen foresees no involvement whatsoever in the running of the indices. “We want the indices area to work independently. It will be run by an index committee, comprising end users, pension funds, insurance companies and other institutional investors. Our role will be to ensure its independence, since the GPR Global and European 250 indices are very popular,” says de Haan.
The takeover gave GPR the room it needed to grow and to get its knowledge circulated by a large organisation. “We were looking for the right partner,” says Beimer. “We needed to ensure continuity and the two companies fit very well together.” De Haan believes that culture and geographic location as well as the ability to ensure continuity led GPR to choose Kempen over its principal rivals. “The fact that Kempen doesn’t change its property strategy in line with adverse market conditions as other investment houses do, coupled with the fact that we already knew each other here in Amsterdam, means that culturally it was a very good fit.”