Cerberus offloading $700m of Austrian real estate

The US investment firm that took over troubled Austrian bank Bawag-PSK in May is now selling a property package that belonged to its new acquisition.

Cerberus Capital Management has appointed brokers Richard Ellis and the Austrian affiliate of property services firm NAI Global to sell a package of real estate in Austria for upwards of $700 million (€491 million).

The commercial property belonged to Bawag-PSK Real Estate before Cerberus completed the acquisition of its parent company Bawag-PSK bank in May this year for €3.2 billion ($4.3 billion).

The portfolio comprises assets located in Vienna city center and federal provinces of Austria totalling 1.5 million square feet, according to a statement released by NAI.

The sale, it says, is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. A second package is slated for sale in 2008.

Cerberus reportedly bested Lone Star and Bayerische Landesbank to Bawag last December.

The bank – Austria’s fifth largest – lost heavily in a series of speculative deals in the US and Caribbean and came close to bankruptcy last year. It was owned by Austrian trade union association OeGB. In July this year, nine defendants pleaded not guilty to fraud and balance sheet manipulation charges relating to activities of the bank.

In 2005 it was implicated in the collapse of a New York based commodities broker hiding losses from creditors and investors.

“News that BAWAG is selling a large high-value real estate package has caused considerable commotion on the Austrian real estate market,” said Eugen Otto, head of NAI Otto, NAI’s Austrian affiliate.