Benson Elliot moves into Italy with investments in Rome and Udine (IT)

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has acquired Via Aurelia 278 in Rome and Terminal Nord in Udine (northern Italy) through the acquisition of 100% of the units in funds managed by Europa Risorse SGR (the SGR), a Bank of Italy regulated Italian real estate fund manager. Via Aurelia is a 62-unit luxury residential development in the centre of Rome; Terminal Nord is a locally dominant retail centre in the north of Udine.

Benson Elliot’s investment reflects the firm’s confidence that Italy has turned the corner and is on the way to recovery, and its intention to be an early and significant mover in the country’s property markets. It follows Benson Elliot’s decision in 2011 to be an early entrant into the recovering Spanish market, with the firm’s Cornerstone project in Barcelona. There, Benson Elliot announced last month that it had concluded Barcelona’s largest letting in more than a year, to ADP, a global leader in outsourced services and human resources management.

Via Aurelia 278, Rome

The SGR has acquired the Via Aurelia residential development scheme comprising two buildings on a 10,000 sqm hill-top site in the attractive Aurelia area in the west of Rome. With all building permits in place, the Property represents an attractive opportunity to deliver a luxury, c.€100 million end-value project in Italy’s largest residential market. The Property was acquired from a private Roman family, who previously used the existing buildings, currently vacant, as a private hospital.

The Aurelia area is an established residential neighbourhood situated 700 metres from the Vatican, offering good transport links via the metro system and road network. The site benefits from a central location and impressive views across Rome, including the nearby Vatican and St Peter’s Church, and the Castelli Romani hills to the south of the city.

The business plan involves demolishing the existing buildings and developing between 62 and 78 large luxury apartments across four new buildings, in a gated community, with direct access to an underground car park (107 spaces), a gym and spa, terraces, communal gardens and 24-hour security. The development is expected to take 2 years to complete, with construction starting in Q3 2014.

Terminal Nord Retail Park, Udine

In its second transaction, the SGR has acquired the Terminal Nord Retail Park in the northern Italian city of Udine from Pillar Retail Europark Fund, a closed-end retail fund advised and majority owned by British Land.

Opened in 2008, Terminal Nord is a modern retail park prominently located in Udine’s prime out-of-town shopping location. The 32,340 m² Park provides 38 single-level units together with a 2,100 space car park and a detached food court. It is currently 95% occupied, and is anchored by a 9,600 m² Carrefour hypermarket. Other significant tenants include Decathlon, Globo, Euronics and OVS.

Europa Risorse SGR has identified a number of value accretive asset management initiatives to maximise the Park’s income. These include letting up currently vacant space, extending leases with existing tenants, reconfiguring and improving some of the retail units and public areas, and introducing additional retail pods

Source: Benson Eliot

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