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GWM Group buys Italy’s biggest retail park

The European firm that started out as a family office has acquired Da Vinci Market Central in Rome from international developer AIG/Lincoln.

A European investment firm that started out as a multi-family office has acquired Italy’s largest retail park for €130 million.

Global Wealth Management (GWM) Group, which was established in Geneva but now has 13 other offices in Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia, has acquired the Da Vinci Market Central near the Rome airport from international real estate developer AIG/Lincoln. The firm said the acquisition of the 602,000-square-foot park fell within its strategy to acquire prime and “well performing” assets in Italy and across Europe and “capitalize on the scarcity of investment capital available in the real estate sector.”

GWM already has made a splash in Italy this year having bought the Italian closed-ended fund Clarice, which owns a portfolio of 70 properties valued at around €220 million. The properties in that portfolio are scattered over Italy and let to Telecom Italia.

In addition, two other European deals have been publicized by the group this year. GWM took part in providing a £85.5 million (€100 million; $132 million) development loan to fund a London office development, Aldgate Tower. In January, the firm was reported to have a 10 percent stake in a sale-leaseback of 12 Spire Healthcare hospitals.

Though its roots are in multi-family wealth channels, the wealth management and family office division is only one of three prongs to GWM’s business. It also owns an alternative investments and asset management arm, through which it makes direct and indirect real estate investments, and a renewable energy investment wing.

Italy, along with Spain, increasingly is coming onto the radar of certain property investors amid renewed confidence that the worst of the European Union crisis is receding – or alternatively, signs of opportunistic buys to be had. Indeed, interest in Da Vinci Market Central reportedly also came from Orion Capital Managers and Rockspring Property Investment Managers.

Meanwhile, The Blackstone Group reportedly is buying the Franciacorta Outlet Village near Brescia from Aberdeen Asset Management, and Morgan Stanley is said to have bought a 50 percent stake in a €600 million portfolio of 13 Auchan shopping centers in the country. In May, Qatar Holding and Hines announced they were taking a stake in the €2 billion Porto Nuova office development  in Milan.