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Europe’s Top 40 Lenders 2020: The Non-Bank Lenders, Part 1

In the third part of our annual list of Europe's leading property lenders, we look at the alternative debt providers that made gains in 2020.

Welcome to the third instalment of our 2020 edition of Europe’s Top 40 Lenders. Now in its seventh year, this list is intended to highlight those most actively providing liquidity to Europe’s property markets today.

Here, we begin to highlight the non-bank lenders that made their mark amid market dislocation during this year of crisis.

THE NON-BANK LENDERS: PART 1

Aberdeen Standard Investments

  • Senior, whole loan lender

  • Active in the UK, expanding into continental Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €570m (€300m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €400m (€320m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €2bn

In April, with the pandemic underway, UK asset manager Aberdeen Standard participated as the largest lender in a £340 million (€390 million) refinancing of two luxury London hotels, understood to be the Connaught and the Berkeley, owned by Constellation Hotels. Aberdeen Standard took a £138 million slice of the loan, which was arranged by US bank Citi.

It followed it, in June, with a €100 million financing of a portfolio of office, industrial and retail assets, located across the UK, in a 40 percent loan-to-value transaction sponsored by a real estate investment fund.

In its submission for this list, the company said current market conditions present an attractive investment opportunity. It added that some of its borrowers have needed support due to the pandemic. “We implemented a range of solutions including short-term waivers in return for sponsor support as well as longer term refinancing of loans on prevailing market terms,” the company said.

AEW and Ostrum Asset Management

  • Senior, mezzanine lender

  • Active in western Europe and Poland

  • Lending in 2019: €447m (€190m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €168m (€76m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €1.2bn

The lending joint venture between asset managers AEW and Ostrum Asset Management, subsidiaries of Natixis Investment Managers, paused lending as covid-19 struck Europe. However, it resumed business in June to close the financing of Arboretum – Europe’s largest wood-based office scheme, located near Paris.

Arboretum, Paris
Arboretum: AEW and Ostrum provided €45m of debt in June

“Our main concerns during the lockdown period were to avoid uncertainty around the real estate sector and to protect investors’ dry powder,” it told Real Estate Capital. “We started investing again in June, once the internal experts, our local offices and external valuers had sufficient information on the real estate market, based on location, asset type and even tenants’ industries.”

Alongside Allianz Real Estate and BNP Paribas, it provided €45 million of a €430 million financing of Arboretum. In September, it also provided €35 million as part of the refinancing of an 860,000 square feet office complex in Berlin’s ‘Mediaspree’ area.

Allianz Real Estate

  • Senior lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €2.1bn (€1.5bn in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €1.1bn (€900m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €9.5bn

Between March and November, the property investment management business of German insurer Allianz closed four European loan deals.

In September, it announced a £400 million (€436 million) loan to UK property company Lazari Investments for five London office buildings. The deal was its largest single-loan debt transaction in Europe to date.

In June, it participated in the €430 million financing of the Arboretum development in Paris, the largest solid-wood office scheme in Europe, with a €200 million loan. Its other deals were a £90 million financing in June to GLL Real Estate for the acquisition of the Bishop’s Square office building in Dublin and a £139 million loan to Helical and Ashby Capital in July for the development of the 33 Charterhouse Street office building in London. Allianz said the four deals were underway prior to covid-19 lockdowns.

In May, Allianz announced that German pension fund Bayerische Versorgungskammer had become the first third-party client for its Luxembourg-based debt fund, co-investing with a €300 million stake in a sub-fund valued at €1.2 billion.

Amundi

  • Senior lender

  • Active across continental Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €860m (€516m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €400m (€200m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end of Q3 2020: €1.3bn

French asset manager Amundi closed three transactions in March – totalling around €280 million and including two deals that closed after lockdowns were imposed – secured by senior living and offices.

In March, it also took a stake in the financing of a Spanish healthcare portfolio, in a deal designed to leverage the sponsor’s investment strategy. Since lockdowns began, Amundi also participated in the refinancing of a portfolio of European hospitality assets, on which the commitment was made before the pandemic but the financing structure was fully negotiated due to the change in market conditions. In early 2020, it financed a data centre in Paris backed by a long lease.

“Amundi maintained its selective approach assessing opportunities from every sector and seizing the chance to invest in high-quality assets at discounted prices,” it said in its submission.

In Q4 2019, the company was awarded a real estate debt mandate by the UK’s NEST pension fund, which totalled £500 million (€550 million) for real estate debt and infrastructure debt, the latter awarded to BlackRock.

Apollo Global Management

  • Senior, mezzanine lender

  • Active across western Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €3.2bn (€2.9bn in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €532m (€290m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end of Q3 2020: €4.1bn

In addition to the €290 million of European real estate loans closed since the start of Q2, US private equity firm Apollo said another €1 billion was in the pipeline as of October.

Ben Eppley, Apollo
Eppley: his team closed multiple deals with Blackstone

Since lockdowns began, Apollo’s property lending business, led by Ben Eppley in Europe, provided £109 million (€119 million) of mezzanine debt to Blackstone, secured on 270 UK industrial properties, as part of a wider £667 million deal. “The loan closed in the late summer, at a time when most lenders were not in the market for new loans,” it said in its submission.

It also provided Blackstone with a €69 million mezzanine loan for 61 last-mile logistics properties across Europe, as part of a €404 million financing for the sponsor’s Mileway business.

Pre-covid-19, in December 2019, Apollo provided an £850 million construction loan to Meyer Bergman and CC Land for a London shopping centre redevelopment known as The Whiteley, including residential and a five-star hotel.

ARA Venn

  • Senior, whole loan, mezzanine lender

  • Active in the UK, northern Europe, Spain

  • Lending in 2019: €1.1bn (€566m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €638m (€538m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end of Q3 2020: €3.2bn

In December 2019, Singapore-based ARA Asset Management established a joint venture with London-based credit business Venn Partners to create ARA Venn.

Of the €638 million of real estate finance provided by ARA Venn in 2020 to the end of Q3, €407 million was senior and €231 million whole loans, across private rented sector residential lending in the UK and residential mortgages in the Netherlands. In September, it closed a €300 million securitisation of residential mortgages originated by its Dutch mortgage platform.

Between May and September, it closed three tranches of a £250 million (€272 million) lending facility known as Project Prime, financing the acquisition by German investor ECE of a 2,063-unit PRS portfolio across the UK. The deal was done through the ARA Venn PRS Guarantee Scheme, which funds loans through a £3.5 billion UK government bond issuance programme.

In October, it was appointed by the UK government to manage a new £3 billion affordable housing debt programme.

On the fundraising front, in June it held a €200 million first close of its pan-European whole loan fund VeCREF II.

Aviva Investors

  • Senior, stretch-senior, whole loan lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €1.1bn (€845m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €532m (€437m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €9.1bn

In the first nine months of 2020, Aviva provided £425 million (€462 million) of loans in the UK, its main market, as well as €70 million in continental Europe, where it is expanding. Its loan book at the end of Q3 comprised £7.9 billion of UK loans and €483 million of continental European loans.

10bps

The margin reduction available to CLS Holdings in a sustainable loan by Aviva

Loans closed since the onset of covid-19 included a £154 million facility to UK property company CLS Holdings in September, comprising 10- and 12-year fixed rate tranches, on behalf of the Aviva UK Life Annuity business and third-party client mandates. The loan financed 11 offices and a mixed-use scheme across London and England’s south-east. The facility was structured with a margin linked to sustainability performance indicators, with a 10-basis-points reduction available to the sponsor.

In July, Aviva provided a senior loan to M7 Real Estate for the acquisition of three UK offices. In September, it completed a £38.5 million refinancing of 77 UK light industrial assets with family-run firm Grammont Group.

AXA IM – Real Assets

  • Senior, mezzanine lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €2.4bn (€1.4bn in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end of Q3: €625m (€360.5m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end of Q2 2020: €10.1bn

Paris-headquartered AXA IM – Real Assets said it continued to find deals after the onset of covid-19 “despite many being placed on hold and some waivers being requested”. It added the CRE debt platform “was able to continue to complete deals during the crisis that were well underway before March”.

Isabelle Scemama
Scemama: runs AXA’s alternative assets division

In total, AXA IM – Real Assets, which is part of €154 million manager AXA IM Alts, led by Isabelle Scemama, reported closing €360.5 million of new lending between the start of Q2 and the end of Q3, putting its 2020 total at that point at €625 million.

“The large scale of our debt platform gives us access to the real asset debt market from a privileged position, and the path to tier-one quality loans, providing easier admittance to the largest deals,” AXA explained.

Deals in 2020 included a top-up financing in May for a pension fund’s acquisition of 16 core office properties in Rome and Milan on a five-year term. In June, it provided acquisition finance for institutional investors to finance nine core logistics assets in Milan and Verona.

Barings Real Estate Advisers

  • Senior, whole loan, development lender

  • Active in UK, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Spain

  • Lending in 2019: €708m (€415m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €224m (€169m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end of Q3 2020: €2.6bn

During 2020, Barings, the investment arm of US insurer MassMutual, took on two new lending mandates from external clients, totalling €140 million and £250 million (€279 million), thereby broadening its sources of capital and lending capabilities.

The company reported €224 million of lending in the first nine months of 2020.

In Q3, it provided a circa €20 million student accommodation development facility in Barcelona for a UK sponsor. Also in Spain, it closed a €76 million facility to support the forward funding of five logistics assets near Madrid.

In Q3, in Germany, Barings provided a €60 million development loan to finance the construction of a mixed-use residential and student housing scheme in Dortmund.

Prior to the onset of the covid-19 crisis, in December 2019, Barings closed a €240 million floating rate senior development loan to German investor Mikare Group for two residential and office towers in Berlin on behalf of two separately managed accounts.

BentallGreenOak

  • Senior, whole loan, mezzanine lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €750m (€460m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €400m (€370m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €1.6bn

Real estate manager BentallGreenOak, which lends against transitional assets, closed €370 million of loans since the beginning of Europe’s covid-19 lockdowns, with an additional €400 million in documentation by the end of Q3. In its submission, the firm said it closed loans which were underway before lockdowns began.

It provided a senior loan of around €40 million for the acquisition and development of a logistics asset in the Netherlands, after the original lender was stood down in mid-April. “Our team acted swiftly by having a term sheet agreed and signed shortly after,” the firm said in its submission.

During the pandemic, BentallGreenOak also provided its first loan in Finland, a €15 million acquisition and development facility for a mixed-use property in Helsinki.

Although primarily a mid-market lender, BentallGreenOak provided a whole loan of more than €100 million to refinance a construction loan for an office development in Amsterdam. “We were able to benefit from having substantial dry powder for investments during the covid crisis and were able to work meeting the sponsor’s strict timeline,” it said in its submission.

Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies

  • All types of real estate lending

  • Active across western Europe

  • Lending in 2019: €3.5bn (€2.3bn in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €1.2bn (€828m in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €7.3bn

In September 2020, US PE firm Blackstone announced the final close of its fourth global real estate credit fund on $8 billion. The firm claimed it is the largest property debt fund ever raised.

$8bn

Size of Blackstone’s latest global RE debt fund, which closed in September

Since covid-19, Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies started providing small and medium-sized loans to owners and developers of last mile logistics assets, including a €41 million whole loan to property company Harcourt for a Dublin logistics park and a €39 million whole loan to KKR and Mirastar for the ground-up development of a logistics project in the UK.

In the residential sector it provided a €107 million whole loan to a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund and Round Hill Capital for the acquisition of a residential portfolio in the Netherlands. It also provided a €158 million whole loan to King Street and Greystar for the development of build-to-rent housing in Madrid.

In November 2019, it closed a €1.2 billion financing of Henderson Park’s take-private of Ireland’s Green REIT.

Brunswick Real Estate Capital

  • Senior lender

  • Active in Sweden

  • Lending in 2019: €149m (€82m in H2)

  • Lending in 2020 to end Q3: €138m (all in Q2-Q3)

  • Loan book at end Q3 2020: €840m

In focusing its lending on its home market of Sweden, Brunswick’s geographic coverage is more limited than other lenders on this list. However, with €138 million provided since the covid-19 crisis began, it stands out as the Nordic region’s highest-profile non-bank real estate lender.

One of the deals closed in Q2 was underway before March, involving a borrower assembling a portfolio of properties through smaller portfolio purchases, funded by a credit line from a regional bank. The deal was eventually closed, with the borrower requiring finance before its credit line expired, allowing Brunswick to close the deal at a 14.5 percent lower loan-to-value and 35bps higher margin than discussed, prior to the onset of the crisis.

In 2019, Brunswick launched a Green Loan Framework targeting buildings with environmental certification or buildings with improvement potential.

Brunswick has also been active in the fundraising market. In 2020, it launched its third senior debt fund, with €1.2 billion of commitments from investors at first close, including from Nordic institutional investors Folksam and KLP.

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