Warba Bank in US direct RE foray

The Kuwaiti bank has struck the first deal in a new $100m partnership with Bentall Kennedy.

Warba Bank has inked its first direct US real estate deal, with plans for more through a new partnership, the Kuwait-based bank said last week.

Warba Bank gave Toronto-based Bentall Kennedy an initial mandate of $100 million in equity to invest across property types in the US and may increase its commitment over time, said Rahim Ladha, a spokesman for Bentall Kennedy. The real estate advisor is currently actively pursuing additional investments on behalf of Warba Bank, which is seeking assets that are generating strong and stable returns and have modest appreciation potential.

Previously, Warba Bank had “limited exposure” to US real estate through unspecified funds, Ladha added.

Its first deal was the acquisition of a 280,000 square foot office building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for an undisclosed price, according to last week’s announcement. The Class A office is occupied by human resource consultancy Manpower Group, whose lease runs through 2031. Sold by local developer The Brewery Works, the four-story building was constructed in 2007, according to its website.

“This remarkable acquisition marks the debut of a long-term cooperation and is in line with our strategy of acquiring well-occupied properties, generating stable income in dynamic markets,” Shaheen Hamad Al-Ghanem, Warba Bank’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Kuwaiti interest in US real estate has soared in recent years, led by sovereign wealth fund Wafra’s increased activity, according to data provider Real Capital Analytics. In the 12 months ending March 31, Kuwaiti investment in the asset class jumped 107 percent to $1 billion.