Henderson acquisition to help double French exposure

The London-based company has bought Horizon Investment Management France as part of its plan to double its exposure to French property by 2015.

Henderson Property has grown its presence in Continental Europe by taking over Horizon Investment Management France, part of private European real estate investment manager Horizon Investment Management.

The property arm of London-based Henderson Global Investors, which has €15 billion of real estate under management and has aspirations to double its French exposure by 2015, said that the acquisition would see 6 people from Horizon France join the company, giving Henderson a total of 13 staff in France.

The new team will provide asset management services for a €250 million closed ended real estate fund, the Horizon French Property Partnership, as well as seven asset management contracts to manage 25 properties.

As part of the merger process, Peter Winstanley, who co-founded Horizon in 2004 with Scott Morgan, and who used to manage the €1 billion-plus AIG French Property Fund, will take on the role of president of Henderson Global Investors (France). Thibault Ancely, country head and director of Horizon France, will be appointed head of Henderson Property France.

Horizon’s other offices in the UK and the Netherlands as well as its operations in Asia Pacific are not part of the deal. Morgan, chairman of Horizon Investment Management, said the firm would continue to focus on attracting Asian capital with a particular view to deploying it in the central London market.

Commenting to the deal to buy the French part of the business, Mike Sales, chief investment officer and managing director of Henderson Property said the firm was optimistic about the medium-term outlook for the French property market. “This acquisition represents a good opportunity to capitalise on the expected value shift in French property in the near term,” he explained.

Andy Schofield, director of research, added that France had consistently been a “favoured destination” for core real estate investors, a position exacerbated by the on-going sovereign risks associated with southern Europe.

“The defensive qualities of French commercial real estate, namely liquidity and transparency, are underpinned by the dominance of equity strong domestic investors,” he further explained.

“Demand for quality income from institutional and insurance firms, has further supported core valuations and robust performance forecasts. We think the best opportunities are to be found in centrally located offices in Paris where supply and demand is favourable for rental growth and in the retail sector where we would target large dominant assets such as shopping centres.”