Welcome to the 2018 edition of Europe’s Top 40 Lenders. Now in its fifth year, this list is intended to highlight those most actively providing liquidity to Europe’s property markets today.
Here, in the third of three instalments, we highlight the insurance companies and the debt funds that made the list.
THE NON-BANK LENDERS
• Senior, whole loan, mezzanine and development lender
• Active in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands
• $1.9bn new lending in 2017
• H1 2018 new lending undisclosed
• $6bn-$7bn loan book
US insurer AIG originated $1.9 billion in real estate loans across Europe last year, which was in line with the expected $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion, as reported by Real Estate Capital in last year’s Top 40. Although AIG does not set formal targets for new lending volumes, its ongoing annual projection is around $2 billion of fresh business.
Although the firm has not made public its business since October 2017, several market sources point out the insurer is active in several markets, including in the Nordics.
By the end of October 2017, D. Carnegie & Co, the largest listed real estate company in Sweden, announced a SKr3.25 billion (€309 million) refinancing with AIG Asset Management (Europe), the European investment management arm of the wider insurance group. The financing, used to optimise D. Carnegie & Co’s capital structure, was provided alongside a SKr750 million revolving capex facility.
ALLIANZ REAL ESTATE
• Senior lender, some development and ‘enhanced’ lending
• Active across Europe
• €1.9bn lending in 2017
• c.€1.2bn lending in H1 2018
• c.€7bn European loan book
The German insurer has been in growth mode since it launched its real estate lending strategy in 2011. In the past 12 months, the most significant shift in its strategy is the addition of an element of higher risk/return lending to its portfolio, which head of debt Roland Fuchs, told Real Estate Capital in March could account for 20 percent of annual volumes eventually.
The first two deals under the new ‘enhanced debt’ strategy were done in the UK – a market Allianz entered in 2017 and one in which it is aiming to grow. In April, Allianz took a £50 million participation in the development financing of 80 Fenchurch Street, a City of London office building owned by Partners Group funds. In August, it provided a senior loan in a refinancing of Blackstone’s St Katharine Docks, also in London, a mixed-use scheme with ongoing refurbishment and letting risk.
In addition, Allianz has reshaped the structure of its debt operation, reflecting the expansion in the capital base from within its parent insurance group, which now numbers 20 insurance companies. A single debt platform, hosted in Luxembourg, has been established this summer, through which capital is pooled, rather than lending directly from the balance sheets of individual insurance companies.
“It gives us the operational framework through which to pursue lending more akin to bank loans,” Fuchs told Real Estate Capital in August.
Loans written by Allianz in 2018 include €281 million in July to McArthurGlen to finance the Noventa di Piave Designer Outlet near Venice, €300 million to Signa Capital in June for the Upper West mixed-use tower in Berlin and circa €300 million to BVK in April for 114 Avenue des Champs-Elysees retail unit, in Paris.
APOLLO GLOBAL MANAGEMENT
• Senior, mezzanine lender, structured credit investor
• Active in the UK and Western Europe
• $503m new lending in 2017
• $1bn new lending in H1 2018
• $1.9bn loan book
Under the radar, Apollo has grown to be a major provider of property debt in Europe. The CRE debt platform was formed in 2009 and is led in Europe by Ben Eppley. Including its US business, run by Scott Weiner, it has invested more than $22 billion of fixed- and floating-rate senior and mezzanine loans since then.
A balance sheet lender, investing on behalf of funds, insurance companies and a publicly listed mortgage REIT, loans begin at €20 million and can go to 80 percent leverage, or higher in select cases. “Apollo’s permanent capital sources used to fund our commercial real estate lending business sets us apart from our peers,” a spokeswoman told Real Estate Capital.
Recent European transactions include a £103 million senior floating-rate loan for the redevelopment of the Lloyds Chambers office building in London for Alfred Equities and GMF Capital and £140 million of senior floating-rate financing for the pre-development of a retail and residential project known as Whiteleys in London for Meyer Bergman.
In the mezzanine market, it provided a €93.2 million floating-rate senior loan to Blackstone for a portfolio of 16 hotels throughout coastal Spain and the Canary Islands. It has also written a £54.7 million senior floating-rate inventory loan for a residential-for-sale building in Central London’s Golden Square, for Oracle Capital Group and the Russian Real Estate Investment Company.
In total, Apollo has provided more than $2.8 billion of commercial real estate finance in the UK and Western Europe since 2013.
• Senior lender, some whole loans/stretched senior
• Active in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands
• £742m UK lending and €131m Continental European lending in 2017
• £250m and €100m lending in H1 2018
• c.£8bn loan book
In May, the UK insurer’s investment management business created a real assets division, combining real estate, infrastructure, structured finance and private debt, with a leadership team including Barry Fowler, managing director for alternative income.
In recent years, the firm’s real estate lending business, led from London by Gregor Bamert, has expanded its product offering, as well as its geographic reach. In 2017, €131 million was provided in Continental European markets, comprising France, plus debut deals in the Netherlands and Germany. The firm is aiming to do business in the Nordics, Italy and Ireland.
Aviva has continued to raise third-party capital in the past year, to allow it to lend on a shorter-term basis than its annuity-matching lending programme, as well as on a floating-rate basis. In total, Aviva has raised £746 million of third-party capital within real estate debt funds since last October, bringing the firm’s total capital raised since the beginning of the programme to more than £2 billion. In addition, Aviva’s annuity-matching internal funds create more than £1 billion of annual liquidity.
In January, Aviva provided a £124 million, seven-year loan to a subsidiary of Helical Bar, which combined fixed- and floating-rate elements, which the lender achieved by combining capital from different mandates. Other deals have included last December’s £145 million financing of Lazari Investments across two loans, including a £90 million, 10-year facility secured by an office block on London’s Baker Street and a £55 million, 12-year refinancing of Henrietta House in London’s West End.
One area of focus for 2019 will be to source opportunities in the syndication and secondary market, according to Bamert.
AXA INVESTMENT MANAGERS – REAL ASSETS
• Senior, whole loan lender
• Active in Europe, including France,
Germany, UK, Spain, Netherlands, Italy
• €2.18bn new lending in 2017
• €1bn new lending in H1 2018
• €8.8bn European loan book
AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets remains one of the largest non-bank lenders in European real estate. At this point in the cycle, the firm is aiming to maintain, rather than grow, its real estate debt portfolio, which has been reflected in 2017’s new lending volumes, down to €2.18 billion compared with the €3 billion invested in real estate debt over the previous year.
“The European property cycle is in an advanced stage, and therefore [the firm] plans for a more selective and prudent investment strategy,” says Timothé Rauly, head of funds group at AXA IM – Real Assets. In H1 2018, the firm closed €1 billion in new business, with an additional €1 billion secured and due to close over the second half of the year. Since October 2017, the firm raised €1 billion of capital.
AXA IM – Real Assets deployed €2.1 billion through its lending platform during 2017. By June, the firm invested circa €900 million of the €1.5 billion of capital raised for its 10th property debt fund, CRE Senior 10, which it closed in September 2017. The vehicle can lend against stabilised core assets but also against value-add and transitional assets.
Debt investments since the beginning of 2017 were “well-diversified” both in terms of geographies and sectors, with specific focus on traditional asset classes but also on alternative assets, where there is “less competition”, Rauly notes.
By June, the fund achieved a return of around 200 basis points over three-month Euribor, with loan-to-value ratios typically between 40 percent and 60 percent.
BARINGS REAL ESTATE ADVISERS
• Senior, development, whole loan lender
• Active in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Spain
• £730m lending in 2017
• £417.56m lending in H1 2018
• £1.75bn loan book
Barings Real Estate Advisers, which lends on behalf of its American insurer parent, MassMutual, has increased its profile in the lending space in the past couple of years. In the past 12 months, the firm has closed 16 debt transactions with a total volume of more than £1 billion, including senior fixed and floating facilities, development finance for build-to-rent and student residential, whole loans and loan-on-loan debt.
The firm has introduced shorter-dated senior floating loans into its repertoire, recently closing a £42.7 million facility – it’s first under the new mandate – with Brockton Capital, secured on the Pinnacle office scheme in Leeds.
During the first half of 2018, senior lending to core schemes has dominated, with just £15 million of ‘structured’ finance completed. However, across 2017, Barings provided €450 million of senior and €280 million of structured finance. In the first half of this year, Barings reported an average return across senior lending of 1.6 percent, with net returns of 7.9 percent across its structured finance.
Notable transactions have included the year-end refinancing of the five-star Cafe Royal in central London with a £165 million loan, the Q4 2017 £81 million financing of the newly developed 1 Spinningfields office scheme in Manchester for clients of Schroders, and its single largest loan to date in June – a £200m facility secured by the mixed-use Milton Park in the Thames Valley, owned by Hermes Investment Management and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Barings’ whole loan lending has included financing for a 237-unit private-rented-sector development at MediaCity in Manchester and a mixed-use, 74 unit built-for-sale residential-led development in London’s Maida Vale.
The London-based debt team has also increased its geographic reach, extending its lending mandate to Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, although deals in those jurisdictions are yet to close.
BLACKSTONE REAL ESTATE DEBT STRATEGIES
• All types of real estate lending
• Active across Western Europe
• $1.8bn new lending in 2017
• $1.9bn new lending in H1 2018
• $3.5bn loan book
BREDS, Blackstone’s property debt business, has ramped up activity in the senior loan space in the past year, indicative of high-yield lenders broadening their offering in a low-return market.
“Senior loan origination has been a part of our mortgage REIT’s strategy since 2013. Over the past six years, we have grown that business by lending in scale to repeat borrowers,” explains Michael Zerda, head of Europe for BREDS.
In April, BREDS provided a £90.8 million, five-year acquisition loan to Seaforth Land to finance the CAA House office asset in London. In addition, it will finance its redevelopment. The deal, the firm argues, demonstrates its ability to provide senior finance against high-quality product.
BREDS, which can lend across the capital structure, has also moved into non-performing loan financing, corporate real estate financing and European CMBS.
In 2017, it closed 11 transactions in Europe, and nine in the first half of 2018, already putting it ahead of last year’s total at the half-way point, volume-wise. In March, the ortgage REIT, BXMT, took a €1 billion participation in the €7.3 billion financing of the Spanish Banco Popular portfolio for its joint-venture owners, Blackstone Real Estate Partners and Santander.
In the whole loan market, BREDS has provided Carlyle-backed co-working platform Uncommon with €60 million to finance the acquisition of five office assets in London.
• Senior, mezzanine, special situations lender
• Active in the UK, Continental Europe, especially France and Germany
• £695m new lending in 2017
• £505m new lending in H1 2018
• £1.5bn loan book, with an unrealised IRR of 10.7%
London-based private real estate lender Cheyne Capital generated a weighted average IRR of 7.3 percent across its first-half 2018 lending, which comprised a variety of loan structures.
Business included senior lending to mid-market borrowers on value-add assets, especially in the UK, as well as core and core-plus senior and mezzanine loans to institutional borrowers. Although most of its loan book is in loan format, Cheyne can originate and structure core and core-plus debt in listed bond format, as was the case with the origination and securitisation of a €155 million senior loan to French luxury hotel owner/operator, LOV Hotel Collection, the luxury branch of LOV Group.
In the UK, Cheyne provided a £105 million whole loan to Quintain to fund the development of a block of 150 residential units and an office building in Wembley Park, London, as part of the larger ongoing regeneration project in the area. Cheyne also provided a £35 million junior loan to Larkfleet Homes, a regional housebuilder headquartered in the East Midlands, to finance its expansion plans and grow its regional presence.
On the fundraising front, since October 2017, Cheyne has raised $399 million of external capital, with $1.3 billion raised since last January, with most capital raised through the fifth vintage of its real estate lending programme; Cheyne Real Estate Credit Fund V – Opportunistic. The fund hit its hard cap at final close on $800 million in August.
The team of 21 is managed by Ravi Stickney, who established the business area at Cheyne in 2008.
• Senior, whole loan, mezzanine lender
• Active across Europe
• £525m new lending in 2017
• £330m new lending in H1 2018
• £1.4bn loan book
DRC Capital is considered a significant player in Europe’s flourishing alternative real estate lending sector. Last year, the firm closed £525 million in new business, up from £350 million originated in 2016.
In July, the real estate investment management business of property services firm Savills bought an initial 25 percent stake in DRC, with the option to acquire the remaining 75 percent in 2021. A few days after the deal hit the headlines, DRC announced the appointment of Natalie Howard, former head of real estate at Agfe, as it said the firm plans to expand its real estate debt strategies. Savills Investment Management, for its part, aims to increase
DRC’s exposure to Asia to raise capital to deploy in Europe.
Since October last year, DRC has raised £865 million of capital across its senior debt, high-yield and whole loan funds. The firm also raised and invested £30 million of additional segregated co-investment capital in that time.
In December 2017 the debt fund lender closed its third mezzanine and whole loan fund on £600 million. The firm said the DRC European Real Estate Debt Fund III capital-raising was oversubscribed and exceeded its initial £500 million target, with new investors accounting for 40 percent of commitments.
“We are very pleased to close DRC ERED III which successfully raised capital during a challenging period of Brexit and macro-economic uncertainty,” Dale Lattanzio, managing partner at DRC, said at the time.
On future plans, Lattanzio highlights the firm is raising capital for a fund targeting specifically UK whole loans. Meanwhile, the firm seeks to move into investment-grade senior debt in the coming months, he adds.
• Senior, whole loan, mezzanine and development lender
• Active in the UK
• £720m new lending in 2017
• £470m new lending in H1 2018
• £3.5bn AUM at June 2018
One of the early movers in private real estate debt, ICG-Longbow remains a significant player in its home market of the UK.
The real estate business of Intermediate Capital Group, ICG-Longbow provides debt and equity capital, predominantly to the UK commercial and residential markets, including senior debt, whole loans, mezzanine and development finance. The firm has a mid-market focus, with finance provided in London and across the UK regions.
First-half 2018 lending included £97 million of senior debt, £121 million of development finance and £252 million of ‘partnership capital’ – encompassing mezzanine, whole loans and preferred equity. Since October 2017, the firm has raised £1.2 billion across its senior, development and partnership capital strategies, following the completion of investment programmes for predecessor vehicles. Since last October, an aggregate £173 million of capital has been realised producing an IRR of 13.6 percent, creating a 1.5 times investment multiple.
This year’s deals have included July’s £89 million whole loan to finance FORE Partnership’s purchase of Tower Bridge Court, an office building in London which is subject to a comprehensive refurbishment and additional construction.
The firm has also launched a build-to-rent residential joint venture with SDL Group – branded Wise Living – aimed at delivering more than 2,000 homes over the next three years.
LASALLE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT
• Senior, whole loan, mezzanine, development and preferred equity lender
• Active in UK, Western Europe and Nordics
• £305m new lending in 2017
• £445m new lending in H1 2018
• £1bn loan book
LaSalle Investment Management’s European real estate debt business, which is led from London by Amy Aznar, raised £950 million of capital across all real estate strategies in the past 12 months. In the first half of the year, it deployed £445 million in loan deals.
The firm added that, including transactions still in documentation, 2018 activity by October had almost reached £800 million, of which two-thirds is mezzanine and the remainder whole loans.
Notable transactions included its £75 million loan to a joint venture between Apache and the Audley Group to finance the development of 94 extra residential care units at the Audley Luxury Retirement Village in Clapham, London.
In May it was announced that LaSalle had arranged a £58 million, five-year mezzanine facility to finance the acquisition of 59 UK urban logistics assets by Blackstone. Commenting at the time of the deal, Aznar said the group envisioned “a strong outlook and fundamentals” for the urban logistics space.
The loan came from the group’s £804 million fund, LaSalle Real Estate Debt Strategies III, the focus of which is predominantly on the UK. In November 2017, it was revealed that LREDS III’s capital-raising was oversubscribed, having exceeded its initial target of £750 million.
LaSalle has actively lent through the fund in 2018, also extending a £22 million five-year mezzanine facility to finance the acquisition of a portfolio of five assets in Germany for Ares Management, in addition to a £20 million mezzanine loan for the refinancing of Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, London.
M&G REAL ESTATE
• Senior, whole loan, junior and development lender
• Active in UK and Continental Europe
• £1.2bn new lending in 2017
• £530m new lending in H1 2018
• £4bn loan book
Since the last Top Lenders list in October 2017, M&G has approved commitments of more than £650 million to its commingled strategies, in addition to a further £250 million of commitments to segregated mandates.
The firm also said it is in advanced discussions with large investors to structure bespoke segregated mandates ranging from £200 million to £800 million.
Lending-wise, the firm provided £1.2 billion across senior, whole loan and junior financings in 2017. The firm’s approach is to provide debt across the capital structure to borrowers, due to its ability to hold varying types of debt, given its access to multiple pools of capital with varying risk and return requirements. M&G also buys loans in the secondary market, with more than £150 million acquired since last October.
During Q4 2017, M&G provided a £517 million whole loan to Lodha UK for the development of its flagship scheme at 1 Grosvenor Square, its standout financing of the past 12 months. Deals in the first half of 2018 have included a £200 million financing of a portfolio of Central London retail assets and a £97 million financing of a regional UK shopping centre. .
Since John Barakat established the real estate finance business in 2008, M&G has invested more than £7.5bn in commercial mortgages in the UK and Europe. Its focus is direct origination of large-size whole loans, which are held to maturity.
• Senior lender
• Active in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands
• c.$1bn new lending in 2017
• $750m new lending H1 2018
• $4bn loan book
After a relatively slow 2016, the investment management arm of US insurer MetLife returned to long-term average volumes in 2017, with around $1 billion of European real estate lending business.
In 2017, MetLife Investment Management originated $14 billion in commercial mortgage loans globally, increasing commercial mortgage loans managed to $57 billion, and setting a record for year-on-year growth and total commercial mortgage loans managed.
The European loan book accounts for around 7 percent of the global book, with room to grow, according to Paul Wilson, managing director of MetLife Real Estate Investors. The portfolio’s highest concentration is offices, but also includes industrial, hotel, retail, private rented residential and student accommodation.
Since last October, deals have ranged from £35 million on an industrial estate to more than £200 million on a trophy London office. The focus is on stabilised, or near-stabilised real estate, with loan-to-value concentrated between 55 percent and 65 percent.
Capital for the strategy comes from MetLife Investment Management’s clients, with the platform being opened to third-party investors.
• Senior, whole loan, mezzanine, development, preferred equity lender
• Active in the UK and Western Europe
• £1.1bn of new lending in 2017
• £420m of new lending in H1 2018
• £4.9bn AUM
PGIM’s real estate strategies have been brought into closer alignment during 2018. In June, Eric Adler – chief executive of PGIM Real Estate – was named chairman of PGIM’s overall real estate business. The move brings two businesses – PGIM Real Estate, formerly Pramerica, and PGIM Real Estate Finance, formerly Pricoa – under his watch.
Andrew Macland, most recently head of PGIM Real Estate’s UK business, has been promoted to head of European debt, with an expanded remit that encompasses core, core-plus and value-add debt strategies. In addition, Macland oversees PGIM’s lender relationships.
Across Europe, PGIM lends across three distinct strategies; core, core-plus and value-add.
Since October 2017, the firm has raised $5.4 billion of total capital for real estate debt. Deal highlights in the past year included participating in €1.1 billion facility to fund 70 Grade A logistics properties across Western Europe and the €78 million refinancing of three Dutch residential portfolios totalling 651 residential units located across Amsterdam and The Hague.
The PRECap value-add funds have provided £48 million of funding, alongside £70 million of senior debt, for the refurbishment of 270,000 square feet of offices, leisure and hotel space in Manchester and £90 million for the development of UK student housing.
• Whole loan, development, mezzanine, bridge lender
• Active across Europe
• $650m new lending in 2017
• $600m new lending in H1 2018
• $1.6bn loan book
Starwood Capital provided a company record level of European real estate lending in H1 2018, with more than $600 million completed. The firm originated $650 million in Europe for the full year in 2017 and is targeting a 50 percent increase for 2018.
While Starwood’s lending mandate covers both mezzanine and whole loans, much of its production has been in whole loans, where it sees a “better” risk-adjusted return compared with mezzanine financing, says Lorcain Egan, the firm’s head of lending in Europe.
While Starwood targets mezzanine positions priced above mid-700 basis points all-in cost to meet return requirements for investors, the market for mezzanine financing is currently in the high 500s to low 700s bps range, Egan notes.
“We generally write and hold the whole loan. In some cases, we club upfront with a bank or sell a senior tranche post-closing,” Duncan MacPherson, head of European capital markets, explains. “This is how we originate much of our mezzanine investments, rather than buying from banks.”
Through its two public debt vehicles – US mortgage REIT Starwood Property Trust, with a portfolio of more than $12 billion across the company’s Lending, Investing & Servicing and Property business segments; and Starwood European Real Estate Finance Limited, with a market capitalisation of £400 million – Starwood has the capacity to underwrite large tickets, Egan explains.
The sweet spot for lending is for larger loans in the range of $100 million to $500 million, there is also the flexibility to write loans as small as $20 million “for the right situation”, he notes.
The firm can deploy capital across Europe, but has a focus on the UK, Ireland and Spain. “These are our core markets, while hospitality is a strong theme in our origination pipeline,” Egan says.
TH REAL ESTATE
• Senior, junior and development lender
• Active in the UK and selected European countries
• £990m new lending in 2017 (£840m senior)
• £1bn new lending in H1 2018
• £3bn loan book
During 2018, most of TH Real Estate’s lending has been senior loan investments secured by collateral including prime London offices and retail, as well as private rented sector residential and industrial.
A standout loan was a participation in a £155 million financing of a speculative City of London office development at 80 Fenchurch Street, alongside Allianz.
Other deals have included a five-year senior financing for Quintain of the 200-unit Alto PRS scheme in Wembley, a long-term financing to an Asian investor acquiring 200 Aldersgate in the City of London, and a participation in the long-term loan to Brookfield for the One Principal Place office and retail development, which is Amazon’s headquarters. The firm also provided senior finance for the refinancing of Old Spitalfields Market.
TH RE invests in debt on behalf of several clients and mandates with differing returns objectives. Most capital deployed in H1 2018 has been into senior investments for the firm’s maiden fund – Global Real Estate Debt Partners – Fund I, with commitments of £295 million, delivering a 6-7 percent net IRR.
The firm has launched a second UK-focused debt fund, Global Real Estate Debt Partners – Fund II (UK). The fund has recently had its first close and investments have been made with a view to delivering its target of an 8-9 percent gross IRR and 6 percent net income return.
The first close was held at the beginning of 2018. The seven-year term fund invests in whole loans up to 75 percent loan-to-value. Since last October, the firm has also been appointed on separate account mandates with a pan-European focus.