Coima launches strategic partnership with Intesa via office deal

The firm’s chief executive Manfredi Catella is also looking to partner with other Italian institutions on a range of real estate initiatives.

Coima SGR, a Milan-based investment manager and developer, has agreed to acquire and reposition a portfolio of office buildings located across Italy from Intesa Sanpaolo, the country’s largest bank. The properties, which are worth more than €500 million in total, will be transferred to investment funds managed by Coima. As part of the transaction, the bank will receive shares in these funds.

According to Manfredi Catella, founder and chief executive officer of Coima, the deal represents the start of a strategic, longer-term partnership between the manager and the bank.

Around two-thirds of the initial portfolio’s value resides in three prime offices: one in central Rome and two in central Milan. The remainder are located across a range of Italian cities and are non-prime properties the bank will either vacate or dispose of within the coming months.

“Intesa Sanpaolo will remain invested and they will have us take care of the redevelopment, because these assets are historical assets of the bank that require repositioning and upgrading,” Catella told PERE, adding that the bank’s overall ownership in each fund will be less than 50 percent.

Coima has yet to decide which buildings will be transferred into which investment vehicles, as it depends on the nature of the redevelopment required for each property, he added.

The transaction comes as Intesa Sanpaolo seeks to downsize its property footprint in Italy by around 21 percent, from around 43.6 million square feet to 34.4 million square feet by 2025. This plan for “smart real estate management,” as outlined in a 2022 presentation by the bank, also involves upgrading core assets to reduce the group’s carbon emissions and to modernize office buildings in line with the increased focus on collaboration and health and wellbeing.

The majority of the properties Coima is acquiring from Intesa Sanpaolo will be converted into other uses, such as residential or hospitality, Catella explained.

Other collaborations in the works

According to Catella, the agreement with Intesa Sanpaolo to combine forces on a strategic basis – as opposed to primarily working with the bank in a traditional borrower-lender capacity – was “several years” in the making. Other collaborative projects between the manager and the bank in future could range from further transactions to capital raising activities, he added, referencing the large high-net-worth client base of the bank.

“There is quite a variety of projects that we have identified and started working on,” said Catella. “These include initiatives within the tourism sector, how to improve the management of buildings from an impact and energy consumption perspective, or how to design investment products together and vis-à-vis of their clients, which are both institutional and high-net-worth individuals.”

Catella also hoped Coima’s alliance with Intesa will lead to partnerships with other Italian institutions. “We want to start joining forces with relevant institutions across the country to support the transition in real estate – and not just the green transition, but the ongoing transitions in terms of property usage,” he said.

The executive referenced as an example a co-investment from Italian state fund the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti alongside Coima to develop the athletes’ village for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Milan. The site will be transformed into 1,700 beds’ worth of student accommodation after the event.

He also expects further opportunity to collaborate with Italian institutions to help finance asset upgrades and regeneration projects amid tighter credit conditions and a wider pullback in real estate lending by commercial banks. Late last year, for example, Coima signed an agreement in partnership with fellow Italian manager Redo SGR to take over the MilanoSesto urban regeneration project from manager Hines and Prelios. As part of the transaction, approximately €900 million of debt lent by Intesa Sanpaolo and other lenders including UniCredit, Banco BPM and IFIS was converted into equity.

Coima has around €10 billion in assets under management, and invests exclusively in Italian real estate.

Among the funds for which Coima is currently raising capital, according to PERE data, are the impact vehicle Coima ESG City Impact Fund, which launched in 2020 and had attracted €800 million in commitments as of November last year against a target of €2 billion; and the value-add Coima Housing Fund, which launched last year with a target of €400 million as reported previously by PERE, and to which Intesa Sanpaolo made an undisclosed commitment.

Coima is also raising a fund focused exclusively on the redevelopment and retrofit of office and residential assets in Italy: Coima Opportunity Fund III has a €500 million target and attracted €200 million from Singaporean sovereign investor GIC at first close, per a PERE report.