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Benson Elliott takes Italian portfolio beyond €500m

The London-based fund manager has targeted the country since the Italian economy began to recover in 2014. 

Benson Elliott, the private equity real estate fund manager, has completed its sixth Italian property acquisition, taking the firm’s recent spending in the region beyond €500 million.

The latest purchase was the 376,000 square foot Centro Commerciale La Meridiana shopping center in Bologna, in northern Italy, one of the largest of its kind in the city. The complex is anchored by an Esselunga hypermarket, a Virgin Active fitness center and a nine-screen multiplex cinema. It also has tenants including Benetton, Sephora and Sisley. The center comprises 42 units with 1,650 parking spaces.

The seller was TMW Immobilen Weltfonds, an open-ended real estate fund controlled by CACEIS Bank Deutschland. The sale price was not disclosed.

La Meridiana is based in one of the most affluent and densely populated areas of Bologna, five miles from the city center. The city itself is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region, one of the wealthiest regions in Europe.

The transaction comes amid a flurry of activity by Benson Elliott in Italy, which has targeted the country since early 2014. Since then it has acquired six properties across the country’s four largest economic regions, Lombardy, Lazio, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, which collectively generate over half of Italy’s gross domestic product.

Joseph de Leo, Benson Elliot senior partner, said: “In April 2014, we announced our intention to be an early mover into a recovering Italian market, and we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made since then. Over the past 24 months, we’ve secured a high quality portfolio in the four regions that underpin Italy’s investment markets and drive the Italian economy.”

He added: “We’ve identified a number of initiatives to add value, much as we have at Terminal Nord in Udine, and look forward to working with the center’s retailers to deliver an enhanced shopping experience for customers and an attractive return for Benson Elliot’s investors.”

Benson Elliot’s Italian investments to date are: the Westin Palace Hotel in Milan; the Westin Europa & Regina Hotel on the Grand Canal in Venice; the Sheraton Hotel in Rome; Monticello, a luxury residential development overlooking the Vatican in Rome; and the Terminal Nord retail park in Udine. Europa Risorse advised Benson Elliot for the transaction.

Benson Elliot, founded in 2005, has over €1.3 billion of equity under management.