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U.S. Property investors take renewed interest in Europe (Original version)

Fuente: CBRE.BLOGSPOT – Asieh Mansour, Head of Americas Research

Despite considerable headwinds facing the global economy, leading economic indicators suggest a return to normalcy in the near term.  Of the key factors weighing on the global economy and investor sentiment, the most troubling has been the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Investors have shied away from Europe in general up until recently.  American property investors have been risk-averse, sidelining Continental Europe and solely focusing on core assets located domestically or in London.  The crisis in the European Monetary Union has since eased significantly as key policy actions have been initiated.  The “Euro” crisis is not over but has gone into remission.  Fears of an imminent break-up of the currency union have receded markedly.  This has led many U.S. property investors to take another look at European real estate markets.
Institutional investors find the geographic diversification potential of holding European property assets comforting.  With improvement in underlying economic fundamentals and implicit guarantees by the ECS  to avert any tail risk, investor confidence in Europe has improved.

In 2013, it appears that U.S. investors are executing a bar-bell strategy, investing in core and opportunistic assets in the U.K. and across continental Europe.  According to Preqin’s December 2012’s survey, 50% of North American institutional investors said they will be looking outside their own borders and across the Atlantic.  This is a viable and growing source of capital for real estate fund managers across Europe.  Europe-focused fundraising has grown for a consecutive year.  U.S. investors want to take advantage of portfolio diversification and higher yielding real estate opportunities in certain beleaguered European capitals.  Last year, an estimated 29 private equity funds targeting Europe were launched, mostly from U.S. based investment managers.  The volume of capital raised totaled $U.S. 23 billion, second highest by region in the world.  This marks the second consecutive yearly increase in U.S. capital targeting European property.

More recently, U.S. private equity group Blackstone is working on further logistics acquisitions in Europe.  France, rather than the U.K. is one of Blackstone’s key targets.  Blackstone is also active in Paris office, attracted by the liquidity and the relative resilience of the French capital.  Morgan Stanley is also raising its exposure to France, getting ready to bid for the French department store Printemps.

While many investors were focused on core office in Europe, in light of the pervasive uncertainty, there is evidence that U.S. property investors are increasingly looking at opportunities higher up on the risk-return spectrum.  We expect that this trend should only strengthen with time given our underlying baseline expectations for economic prospects across Europe. JP Morgan is building a strategy on opportunistic property targets across Europe since they believe that Vintage 2013 European property funds will be among the highest returning at maturity.

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