Henderson launches first Italian fund

Fondo Azzurro, Henderson Global Investors first private equity real estate fund, has been launched with a target of €250 million.

Henderson Global Investors, a newly created entity of London-based Henderson Property, has launched its first fund, Fondo Azzurro, following authorisation from the Bank of Italy.

The closed-end fund will target Italy’s retail property sector of and will invest in both existing properties as well as development opportunities. The Fund’s target equity is €250 million ($340 million) over a 10-year lifetime.

The Fund will be managed by Gaetano Lepore, based in Milan. The firm said Lepore has over 14 years of experience in the property sector, having previously worked at Deka Immobilien, Rinascente-Auchan Group and Larry Smith.

The fund is the first for the newly established firm, which was set up by property asset manager Henderson Property in 2006. The new entity plans to launch a number of Italian funds catering to institutional investors in Europe. Henderson, which manages over €11.9 billion of property funds across Europe, has previous experience in the Italian retail sector through its European Outlet Mall Fund.

The Fondo Azzurro fund is a Societa di Gestione del Risparmio vehicle, which is a legal structure for the management company of closed ended funds in Italy.

The fund launch comes at a time when a number of funds are looking at Italy. Pirelli’s Italy-focused Berenice property fund has been the subject of much interest, most recently from Goldman Sachs, which this week reportedly submitted a higher offer for the vehicle than Merrill Lynch, the previous high bidder. 85 percent of that fund’s property is located in the cities of Milan and Rome. At the end of last month, the fund’s assets were reportedly valued at €800 million.