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Occupiers Look to Property Sales as a Source of Capital

London, 6 February 2009 – Despite a weakened European commercial property investment market in 2008, sales of commercial real estate by occupiers remained an important source of activity last year. Although there was a sharp fall-off in the amount of public sector real estate sold in 2008, owner-occupier sales maintained their approximately 19% share of the total investment market in 2008, according to figures released today by CB Richard Ellis.

As in 2007, there were some very high profile sale and leaseback transactions during 2008. At the end of the year, Italian banks Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit each sold corporate real estate assets valued in excess of €800 million. This continued a trend of bank property sales set at the beginning of the year by Banco Santander’s disposal of its Madrid HQ, the final part of a multi-stage disposal.

These are not isolated examples of banks selling part of their corporate real estate in 2008. Other significant deals last year included:
Caixa Galicia – c €250 million – Spanish Portfolio
BNP Parisbas - €250 million - Avenue Kléber, Paris*
Banco Popular - €127 million – Buildings in Madrid and Barcelona


*This deal differs slightly from the others listed in that BNP Parisbas are intending to vacate the property during 2009.

Large transactions involving banks were far from the only sale and leaseback activity in the market. In total there were around 600 transactions involving sales by owner-occupiers in 2008. The average deal size was around €33 million, only slightly larger than the €28 million average lot size for the market as a whole. Transactions took place across the full range of property types, including offices, shops and industrial space. The geographic range was also wide, with deals recorded in 20 of the 26 European countries covered by the data.

The geographic spread of sale and leaseback transactions has broadened significantly over the last few years. Two years ago the biggest three markets (Germany, UK and France) accounted for 70% of all sales by owner-occupiers. In 2008, the top three markets (Germany, UK and Spain) made up only 59% of total activity.

 

In 2008 sale and leaseback activity was particularly high in Spain and Italy, largely due to the transactions involving the banking sector, as described above. The highest level of activity in 2008 was in Germany, as was also the case in each of the previous two years.

Looking ahead, it is likely that sales by owner-occupiers will continue to be a significant part of the European real estate market. The credit crunch has had a significant impact on the ability of companies to raise money from other sources – bank loans or corporate bond issues – and on the cost of raising this capital. Therefore, even at the lower capital values currently achievable in the market, real estate sales can be the most cost-effective option.

John Wilson, Head of CBRE’s Corporate Strategies Group for EMEA said: “The corporate market now accepts sale and leasebacks as a sound and competitive source of capital. Growth is being driven by three factors: corporates bridging the current equity gap for specific business initiatives; the more significant corporates creating liquidity within their own balance sheet -- creating a "war-chest" to reduce reliability on banks to improve their own speed of action -- and investors increasingly recognising the opportunity for what are effectively strong-performing asset-backed bonds with quality covenants."

ENDS

For more information, please see CB Richard Ellis’ latest MarketView report: European Capital Markets Q4 2008.

About CB Richard Ellis
CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc. (NYSE:CBG), a Fortune 500 and S&P 500 company headquartered in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm (in terms of 2007 revenue). With over 29,000 employees, the Company serves real estate owners, investors and occupiers through more than 300 offices worldwide (excluding affiliate offices). CB Richard Ellis offers strategic advice and execution for property sales and leasing; corporate services; property, facilities and project management; mortgage banking; appraisal and valuation; development services; investment management; and research and consulting. CB Richard Ellis is the only commercial real estate services company named one of the 50 “best in class” companies by BusinessWeek, and was also named one of the 100 fastest growing companies by Fortune. Please visit our website at www.cbre.com.

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