Evans Randall buys Brussels offices for €272 mln. (BE)

Evans Randall, the UK investment banking and private equity group, has acquired a prime office development in Brussels known as Covent Garden for €272 mln., as part of its ongoing programme of trophy building acquisitions. Covent Garden is one of the few landmark properties in Brussels and the deal represents the biggest single asset transaction in the city in 2007. The purchase means that the group has now significantly exceeded its initial target to acquire €1 bln. of real estate assets in mainland Europe.

The 72,000 m² (770,000 ft²) development comprises two buildings linked by a central atrium. Building A, totalling 14,340 m² (154,000 ft²) of office space plus ancillary retail and storage, is pre-let to the European Commission on a 15-year usufruct occupational agreement. Building B, a 26-storey tower, is nearing completion and will provide 56,000 m² (603,000 ft²) of offices, plus retail and storage.

Evans Randall acquired Covent Garden by purchasing 100% of the share capital of Immobiliere du Royal Rogier SA, which developed the scheme. Immobiliere du Royal Rogier SA is a 50:50 joint venture between Covent Garden Real Estate SA (jointly owned by KBC Bank and developer Buelens) and SETI SA, the Swiss private bank.

The acquisition reflects an initial yield of 4.95% on Building A and 5.5% on Building B. The development is expected to have a total value of €300 million when fully let.

Michael Evans, Chief Executive of Evans Randall, says: "Having achieved our target of acquiring at least €1 billion of real estate in mainland Europe's main business centres, we continue to look on a very selective basis for major new assets. These must fulfil our criteria of being high quality, well-located and either fully or partially let to first rate occupiers."

Michael Evans added: "While the credit crunch may be having an impact on confidence in some quarters, this does not in itself affect the underlying fundamentals of real estate markets across Europe. Good prospects for strong returns remain, particularly for quality assets. We believe that the crunch will create new opportunities for value-seeking investors."

Evans Randall was advised on its acquisition of Covent Garden by its retained agent, CB Richard Ellis.

Source: Evans Randall

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