By Barbra Murray
LaSalle Investment Management Inc. just enhanced its holdings with 430,500 square feet of space in one of Germany’s tightest office markets. The real estate investment manager purchased ElseBella, a two-building portfolio in Munich, from AXA Investment Managers in a transaction valued at approximately $193.8 million.
LaSalle acquired ElseBella on behalf of the LaSalle Encore+ Pan European Fund. The investment vehicle, launched in 2006, is an open-ended fund targeting various real estate asset types in the region. “This is an exciting acquisition for Encore+ that increases the fund’s exposure to the German office market whilst also meeting the fund’s criteria of investing in assets in attractive locations with fundamentals which we believe have the potential to underpin future rental growth,” David Ironside, fund manager of Encore+ at LaSalle Investment Management, said in a prepared statement.
The ElseBella collection features the two-building Else property, which offers a total of 269,100 square feet of office space in the Westend district of Munich. Bella, a seven-story, 161,400-square-foot tower in the city’s Arabellapark submarket, completes the portfolio.
“With Munich currently exhibiting some of the highest take-up and lowest vacancy rates in Germany, we expect these properties in two of the city’s most established office submarkets to deliver strong and stable returns for Encore+ investors in the long term,” Ironside added.
LaSalle, which funded the acquisition of the properties with financing through Italian commercial bank UniCredit, relied on assistance from JLL and CBRE in the ElseBella transaction. AXA’s team included Colliers International.
The allure of Munich
The Munich office market’s fundamentals make for steep competition among investors. In the third quarter of 2018, the vacancy rate dropped to 3 percent and prices continued to rise, according to a report by CBRE. Additionally, absorption in the first nine months of 2018 was the highest since the commercial real estate services firm began its coverage of the city.
Munich’s positive office statistics are likely to persist this year. “Given the high pre-letting rate of over 70 percent in project developments which will be completed by the end of 2019, no easing of the supply situation is to be expected by then. As a result, vacancy will tend to decrease further and rents are expected to continue to rise,” per the report.
Munich is just one of the big targets on international buyers’ radar in Germany. Investor appetite for office real estate remains strong across the country, as noted in CBRE research. Office real estate was Munich’s most sought-after asset class among investors in the first nine months of 2018, as noted in the CBRE report.
Transactions in the last half of 2018 included South Korean consortium IGIS and Hana Financial Investment’s $758 million acquisition of the roughly 737,400-square-foot Trianon Tower in Frankfurt. Houston-based Hines added Hamburg’s 500,000-square-foot Olympus Campus project to its portfolio in an approximately $286.5 million joint venture transaction. And earlier in 2018, Bahrain-based Investcorp made its entrance into the German market with the $98.8 million joint venture purchase of Bürocampus Wangen, a 500,000-square-foot office campus in Stuttgart.
Image courtesy of LaSalle Investment Management