RREEF sets sail

The global real estate investment manager has bought a minority stake in the ports business of private UK property group Peel Holdings.

It has been an impressive few weeks for RREEF, the global real estate manager and the property arm of Deutsche Bank's asset management division. As well as announcing its entry into China with a deal to fund a $225 million (€175 million) residential scheme in the southern province of Zhuhai, it acquired a 70 percent stake in the French department store chain France Printemps. At the same time, RREEF has also made a significant infrastructure acquisition, purchasing a 49.9 percent stake in Britain's privately owned Peel Ports. The deal, which is reportedly worth €1.1 billion, was financed through RREEF's European Infrastructure Fund, headed by John McCarthy.

The acquisition marks the continued blurring of the boundaries between real state and infrastructure as investors rush into a sector offering stable income from real estate-backed assets. Earlier this year, Peel Ports appointed NM Rothschild to conduct an auction that would locate a commitment to invest in the company's future development of its ports.

The new partnership between RREEF and Peel may buy more British ports or developable land around ports should it become available. Peel's steady income-producing portfolio comprises Mersey and Manchester Ship Canal in the northwest of England, Clydeport in Scotland, and ports on the Medway in the southeast, as well as in Dublin.

RREEF would not comment outside of its official announcement, but those familiar with the sales document say it contains an assumption about how capacity at the ports can be expanded. However, the deal does not include ownership of Peel Ports' non-operational land, some of which is extremely valuable.

RREEF was able to undertake the transaction without the specific involvement of its separate real estate team because the infrastructure team includes property experts.

Peel Ports follows a number of other transactions in the ports sector including P&O, PD Ports, and AB Ports. PD Ports was bought by Babcock & Brown Infrastructure of Australia, while AB Ports was taken over by a Goldman Sachs-led consortium. But it is not just ports that are attracting real estate and infrastructure groups. Toll roads, schools, hospitals, bridges, and airports have all attracted their fair share of attention. ING Real Estate is among those launching an infrastructure fund to take advantage of the growing sector in Europe.