Heitman sparks western push with UK debut deal

The hitherto central and eastern Europe-focused Heitman has struck up a property partnership in the UK in a clear sign it is moving into western European markets.

Heitman has dropped another heavy hint it is planning to expand its European strategy to include for Western European markets with the announcement of its first UK property joint venture.

The Chicago-based firm has traditionally invested out of funds dedicated to central and eastern Europe, but today said it had signed a joint venture agreement with Signature Senior Lifestyle to develop, own and operate senior care communities in London and the south east of the UK. 

Though Heitman has declined to comment publicly on its wider European strategy, it is widely believed to be extending its activities to include certain western European countries.

Earlier this year, it hired Rob Reiskin, formerly of Paris-based AEW Europe to help run its operation in Europe alongside Otis Spencer. At the time, Maury Tognarelli, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that Reiskin would help the firm continue to expand its European platform. Gordon Black remains managing director of Heitman’s European private real estate equity group.

On the UK venture revealed today, Black said: “We are delighted to be in partnership with Signature to develop these premium senior care home communities. As one of the more defensive real estate asset classes senior care communities are an appealing property sector with which Heitman is very familiar and in which we have successfully invested in the past. UK demographics suggest the sector is poised for impressive growth but key to our investment strategy is partnering with experienced operators.”

Signature currently operates care communities in Kent, Sheffield, and Leicester, with communities under construction in Surrey and Essex and several others in development in the south east. The new joint venture with Signature has already acquired a site in Marlow, an affluent community in Buckinghamshire, and has several other sites are under negotiation.