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EUROPE NEWS: Amundi ramps up

The €450 million purchase of the Der Rotterdam tower was the latest example of Amundi Real Estate’s stated ambition to become the dominant force in European real estate asset management.

In March, Jean-Marc Coly, head of Amundi Real Estate, declared that although his firm was, in his eyes, the leading light in French real estate asset management, its ambition was to achieve the same status across Europe.

Now the real estate asset manager has backed up its bold claims with substance with its latest deal, the €450 million acquisition of the tallest building in the Netherlands. The 1.7 million square foot site comprises 807,000 square feet of office space, a 278 room hotel and parking for 670 vehicles.

Amundi Real Estate is also currently in final negotiations to buy KanAm’s Alpha portfolio, encompassing five offices: three in Paris, another in Rotterdam and one in Luxembourg, for €850 million. The largest asset in the portfolio is the Tour Eglee in Paris’ financial district, La Défense, which is valued at €335 million.

Providing serious backing in its regional aspirations is parent company Amundi, a Paris-based real estate investment manager, which has €12.8 billion in assets under management. Amundi is the largest European asset manager and the tenth globally-speaking, nestled between giants PGIM and Goldman Sachs, with assets under management of €1 trillion.

Despite being a huge name in global asset management for the last 40 years, Amundi has been relatively quiet on the real estate front. It was only in 2010 that Amundi Real Estate was formed, following a merger between French banks Credit Agricole and Societe Generale.

Since then, the firm has been slowly ramping up its real estate activity, particularly out of France – a strategy which Coly said he hopes will result in the firm investing 50 percent of its equity abroad in 2016.

Although June’s Der Rotterdam deal broke the record for the largest single asset transaction in Dutch real estate, the deal which really caught the industry’s eye was last summer’s capture of the €1 billion Aqua pan-European office portfolio from funds managed by German fund manager Union. In doing so, Amundi Real Estate beat out more fancied firms such as NorthStar Realty Finance and Ares Management.

The 3 million square foot portfolio, which produces rental income of €85 million a year, comprised 17 office assets in France, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland.

The firm has ambitious targets but, given the size of its parent company, it believes they are possible.