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US teachers invest €493m in French property

FRANCE – US education retirement system TIAA-CREF has bought €493m in French real estate from Standard Life Investments, according to Invesco Real Estate which acted on behalf of the scheme.

“We’re very excited about this investment,” said Laura McGrath, managing director of the European investment at the fund, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund.

“It enables us to add some very high quality assets to our European portfolio and represents an initial foray into the warehouse distribution market within France.”

The move adds to TIAA-CREF’s existing $1.35bn European real estate portfolio. It has a total of $50bn in real estate.

Invesco said the purchase was part of TIAA-CREF’s “continuing strategy to build its European exposure within its global portfolio”. TIAA-CREF has been investing in European property since 1995 and in continental Europe since around 1990. The portfolio is focused on the UK and France.

“They’re not new to the European scene,” said Duncan Watt, head of European transactions at Invesco Real Estate. “’Teachers’ have been looking to increase their portfolio in real estate in France. “They’re very careful and cautious investors.”

He said the fund was also looking to invest in Belgium, Spain, France and other territories though there was nothing else he could disclose. The fund has long owned a shopping centre in Portugal, he added.

The new properties comprise three office and logistics centres around Paris. Standard Life Investments, which funded the development of the properties, was assisted by Clifford Chance. TIAA-CREF was assisted by Linklaters.

Last month it emerged that TIAA-CREF trustee Martin Gruber resigned following a regulatory probe into a possible conflict of interest over auditor appointments, although it said he’d done nothing wrong. The affair also saw Ernst & Young replaced by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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