EUROPE NEWS: AXA’s second Tour

France's tallest skyscraper, the iconic Tour First office tower in Paris-La Défense, has been purchased by AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets (AXA IM), which redeveloped the property only five years ago.

The property investment arm of the French insurance giant, on behalf of an unnamed club of investors seeking investments into core European real estate assets, acquired the property from Beacon Capital Partners – its former development partner.

In 2007, AXA IM sold a 50 percent stake in the property to Beacon on behalf of one of its clients, as part of what was then a value-add investment.

AXA IM and Beacon then undertook a comprehensive €300 million re-development program of the tower between 2007 and 2011. The re-development, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, with Saubot-Rouit Associés (SRA) as associate architects, included the addition of an extra 243 feet in height.

Upon completion of the redevelopment in 2011, Beacon acquired full ownership of the building.

“Having re-developed the tower between 2007 and 2011, we believe Tour First is now recognized as one of the most striking office towers in one of Europe's foremost business districts,” said Pierre Vaquier, chief executive of AXA IM.

The French insurer and Boston-based real estate investment firm re-developed the property into the 758-foot tall skyscraper, which comprises more than 863,500 square feet of prime office space across 44 office floors.

European core is rapidly gaining popularity among investors who are looking for “safe havens”, according to Kiran Patel, chief investment officer at Savills Investment Management. A report from the London-based firm shows that emerging markets slowdown, global monetary policy divergence and increasing political tension in the Middle East are the factors driving capital into European core real estate.