Greater London is the second largest foreign market, after the US, for Helaba's international real estate financing. Helaba's funding commitment in Great Britain principally covers London and the southeast of the country. Its focus is mainly on the financing of office property and retail real estate.
"Since the outbreak of the financial crisis, we have always been available without restriction for our customers. In line with our risk strategy, we were cautious in our lending operations. We will use the current phase of stabilization and market recovery to further expand our market position selectively. That means, we attach great importance as in the past to professional customers, high-quality properties and first-class locations," states Johann Berger, Helaba's Vice Chairman of the Board of Managing Directors, who is also responsible at Board level for real estate business.
Greater London continues to be at the center of lending in Great Britain, with emphasis on the financing of office property. The volume of new business as of June 30, 2010 was around 188 million (June 30, 2009: 116 million).
In financing real estate Helaba acts as a classical balance sheet lender. "It is not our primary aim to get the highest market shares possible," Berger explains.
"Qualitative growth is the cornerstone of our business strategy. It is demonstrated by the high quality of our loan portfolio. This approach has also helped us in London to come through the crisis comparatively unscathed. Moreover, Helaba is the only German bank whose credit ratings have remained constant in the crisis."
Berger sees himself essentially as a relationship and not as a transaction banker: "Lasting customer relationships are, for me, an important key to sustained success in real estate business which is oriented to the long term."
Helaba's real estate business in London is serviced by a total of 13 employees, in Sales and in Underwriting & Portfolio Management. At the turn of the year 2010/2011, there will be a change in the management of Real Estate Business London: Ingeborg Warschke, who has successfully led operations there since 2009, will be going into retirement. Her position as Head of Real Estate Finance London will be taken over by Richard Bentley. He was formerly Director Real Estate Finance International, London, at Deutsche Pfandbriefbank. Bentley has an excellent reputation in the market and many years of experience in international real estate financing. The position Head of Underwriting and Portfolio Management has already been occupied since April 1, 2010, by Vladimir Bis.
The business field 'Real Estate Business' holds a leading position within the Helaba Group on account of its size and contributions to earnings. With a loan portfolio of 37.7 billion (June 2010), its share of the Group's balance sheet total is about 20%. Some 30% of interest income in the Group is generated by this business field. In its real estate lending business, Helaba concentrates on the financing of major projects in commercial and residential property. The share of commercially used real estate in the total portfolio is a good 82%. The home market is Germany in which the Bank is firmly anchored through all its business divisions. Since the mid-1990s, Helaba has deliberately extended the targeting of important foreign markets. Here, in first place, is the US, followed by Great Britain, France and also northern and eastern Europe. In the meantime, foreign business accounts for more than 50% of the loan portfolio.