Hines has acquired a 209,013-square-foot logistics park with three warehouses near London’s Heathrow Airport from Aberdeen Standard Investments for £80 million, or $105.9 million, on behalf of the Hines Pan-European Core Fund. It was the fourth urban logistics investment by HECF and the third in the Greater London area over the past 18 months.
Developed in 2013, the Dnata City site is occupied by Dnata, Heathrow’s dominant cargo operator, and provides state- of-the art secure air cargo campus facilities just south of the airport’s southern perimeter boundary. Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic and is a critical part of the U.K.’s trade infrastructure. There are also plans to double the cargo capacity and make Heathrow one of Europe’s biggest cargo airports by increasing cargo tonnage by more than 4 million tons per year until 2040.
Peter Epping, senior managing director and HECF fund manager at Hines, said in a prepared statement the Dnata City site has excellent proximity to Heathrow and should provide long-term prospects because of its location. Epping noted the airport will be a critical part of the U.K.’s travel and logistics infrastructure beyond the pandemic. He added the acquisition continues HECF’s strategy of leveraging the Hines European platform and aggregating an urban logistics portfolio in cities with the strongest long-term prospects.
Greg Cooper, director of industrial and logistics at Hines UK, said in prepared remarks the fund was attracted to the property because the Heathrow logistics market has restricted supply, limited new development opportunities and an acute shortage of Grade A fit-for-purpose accommodation. He added the Dnata City location has some of the most modern cargo facilities within the cargo zone and is only three to five minutes from the main airport cargo gate.
Since 2019, HECF has been focused on increasing its urban logistics assets in key European cities with strong long-term growth prospects. It was recently recognized as one of the top property funds in Europe, achieving the MSCI European Property Investment Award for the best performing pan-European balanced fund.
Nick Smith, fund manager of Aberdeen Standard Investments’ Airport Industrial Property Unit Trust, said in a prepared statement the investment market has never been stronger because of the near zero interest-rate-environment, along with the desire to own and build a resilient global supply chain network. Smith said the sale fit in with AIPUT’s strategy to adjust the portfolio to increase investment in logistics in the post- and pre-pandemic worlds. He said the firm will redeploy the proceeds into strategic airport locations.
Hines was advised by Acre LLP and Aberdeen Standard was advised by Savills and DTRE.
Earlier European deals
In May, Hines acquired the 667,400-square-foot Urban Logistics Distribution Centre in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on behalf of the HECF from Ramphastos. The distribution center, which is located within the Lage Weide urban logistics hub, is fully occupied by retailer HEMA, which recently signed a new 10-year lease with HECF.
In June 2019, the fund purchased an 85,000-square-foot, fully leased e-commerce distribution center in the Greater London area. HECF acquired a fully leased logistics park totaling 188,000 square feet in Madrid in October 2019.