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AXA IM buys iconic Milan office building for €220m

The real estate subsidiary of French insurance giant AXA has purchased the landmark office asset (pictured) on behalf of two of its European-focused, core vehicles. The firm’s head of Italian transactions, Alessio Lucentini, said the deal illustrates its confidence in the Italian market.

AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets (AXA IM-Real Assets) has completed the acquisition of a core office asset in Milan’s commercial district of Fiera for €220 million.

The building, located in Via Monte Rosa 91, was purchased on behalf of two funds managed by AXA IM – Real Assets, Selectiv’ Immo and CoRE Europe Funds. Both vehicles target high-quality, core properties in major European cities.

The seller was MPO, an Italian real estate fund owned by Zug, Switzerland-based private markets investment firm Partners Group and managed by Rome-based real estate management company Torre.

The property, which consists of five office blocks in a distinctive U-shape, was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano in 2004. The 925,000 square foot asset is one of the country’s most iconic office buildings with tenants including financial services firm PwC, leading Italian daily newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and car manufacturer Aston Martin.

The Fiera district, located north-west of downtown Milan, has undergone a radical transformation in recent years and is now one of the most popular and well connected business areas in the city.

The €220 million asset was bought by Partners Group in February 2015 as part of a €233 million double asset deal, which included another office asset in Viale Sarca. The individual prices of the two assets were not disclosed at the time. The seller was Unicredito Immobiliare Uno, an Italian closed-end real estate vehicle.

The office property was also the subject of a €200 million bid from preeminent Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC in 2010, however the firm pulled out of the deal in March 2011 citing regulatory issues.

Antoine Aubry, fund manager at AXA IM – Real Assets said: “Through aligning the best interests and strategies of two key funds, we have been able to successfully complete this purchase, with a key focus for AXA CoRe Europe to be present in key European cities such as Milan, and for AXA Selectiv’ Immo to acquire high quality institutional grade assets with the objective of increasing the overall fund size.”

Alessio Lucentini, local head of asset management & transactions in Italy said: “Transactions of such size are rare in Milan and is illustrative of our confidence in both the wider Italian market and this specific landmark asset,” he added.

In June, AXA IM – Real Assets bought the 475,000 square foot Wiltcher’s Complex in Brusssels for €120 million from AG Real Estate, the property arm of Belgian insurer AG Insurance. The asset was purchased on behalf of a joint venture between AXA Selectiv’ Immo and its latest retail vehicle, launched last month, AXA Selectiv’ Immoservice.

The firm currently has more than €63 billion in real estate assets under management.