Benson Elliot and GCI arrange first refinancing of a French securitization (FR)

Benson Elliot Capital Management, the leading private equity real estate firm, and Générale Continentale Investissements ('GCI'), have successfully completed the refinancing of the four-building, 36,000-m² Opéra Portfolio in Paris.

Opera classic view

The flagship property in the portfolio is the Opéra Italiens building in Paris' CBD.

The €138-million loan facility was provided by a syndicate of three banks: Helaba (Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen), Aareal and Credit Foncier de France, with Helaba acting as Facility and Security agent. The transaction represents the only refinancing of securitized debt to be completed in France since the crisis began.

The flagship property in the portfolio is the well-known Opéra Italiens building in Paris' Central Business District. Once the headquarters of French daily Le Monde, the property is today occupied in its entirety by the Ministère de la Justice. The portfolio also includes a property in the 13th district (L'Olympique) and two office buildings in the popular western suburb of Issy Les Moulineaux.

Since acquiring the portfolio in 2007 the partners have increased occupancy from 65% to 99%. Major leases have been extended with the Ministère de la Justice and leading French publisher Editis (who has expanded to ca. 8,000 m² in L'Olympique, on a fixed-term lease expiring in 2020), and new leases have been completed with companies such as Socotec, Oracle and France Telecom. In addition, the partners profitably sold two assets in 2008: Matignon and Belles Feuilles.

Joseph De Leo, Partner & Head of Portfolio Management at Benson Elliot, commented: "This refinancing is a major milestone for the French market and for Benson Elliot. It shows that banks remain enthusiastic about funding quality assets, in major markets, with strong sponsors. Our business plan remains on track and we look forward to working with GCI to create further value in the Opéra Portfolio during the coming years."

Paul Raingold, President at GCI, commented: "This refinancing demonstrates the strength of the Opéra portfolio, and of our successful partnership with Benson Elliot. These are well-located, high standard properties, occupied by high quality, long-term tenants. Paris is one of the strongest property markets in Europe today, both occupationally and in terms of investor demand, and this transaction evidences how successfully the portfolio continues to weather this period of financial market uncertainty."

Source: FD

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