Carlyle closes first European property fund

Private equity firm, The Carlyle Group, has closed its first European real estate fund at €430m. The fund has already completed 15 deals in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

Eric Sasson, Carlyle managing director and head of the Europe real estate team, said: “We are delighted to have completed fundraising, and the team has already made excellent acquisitions and developments in Europe. I am very positive about the future property climate for us and our ability to expand our investment activities in Europe.”

Carlyle began its real estate investment activities in the US in 1993 and has raised three funds, Carlyle Realty Partners I to III, dedicated to the market there. The most recent effort, launched in 2001, raised $570m. Carlyle currently has an exploratory real estate presence Hong Kong looking at opportunities in the Asian markets.

The European real estate team, which now numbers over 20, was established in Paris in 2001 when a group, including Sasson, joined the firm from LaSalle Investment Management. Half of the team, which also has members in Milan and Frankfurt, concentrates on managing the properties in the portfolio. The fund focuses on a single asset approach, investing in existing structures in the office, retail, industrial and logistics sectors, as well as land for development. Carlyle’s preferred real estate markets are France, Germany and Italy but investments in Spain, the UK and the Nordic countries are also considered. Target deal sizes are €20m to €80m.

Acquisitions completed so far include an 11-storey office building in Dusseldorf, two office buildings in Paris (the headquarters of the Continent Insurers and Imprimerie Nationale) and the Jupiter portfolio of 36 properties bought from Italy’s Ministero dell’Economia e delle Finanze. In September, Carlyle made its UK acquisition: 107 Cheapside in London, bought from AXA Sun Life for £67m.

“We plan to make 20 to 30 acquisitions over the life of the fund, and to hold investments for around five years. We have already invested €280 million of the fund, and we will complete our first exits from current investments in 2004. With our proactive approach and active portfolio management, I believe we are in a strong position to take advantage of the increased interest in the property markets,” says Sasson.