Europe’s Top 50 Lenders 2021: The Banks, Part 1

Our expanded list of those making the biggest impact on Europe’s property lending markets shows debt providers were keen to get back to business in 2021.

Real Estate Capital Europe’s signature annual list of those we see as having the biggest impact on European real estate lending markets has gotten bigger.

It was launched in 2014 as Top 30 European Lenders to highlight the leading players in an evolving market. In 2015, it was expanded to cover 40 organisations. Now, we have expanded it again, to showcase what we see as the market’s top 50.

The growth in the list reflects the expansion of Europe’s real estate lending industry. Demand from institutional investors for real estate debt has encouraged a steady stream of non-bank capital managers into the space. And although the pandemic has tested banks’ appetites for real estate, many remain crucial lenders to the sector. The list divides lending businesses by their capital – bank and non-bank, with the latter category accounting for more places in it.

The information contained in the following pages shows that, after a subdued 2020 in Europe’s property finance market as a result of covid, many have capitalised on increased dealflow in 2021. In the UK alone, according to Bayes Business School, H1 loan origination was up 50 percent on the same period in 2020, with £23.3 billion (€27.5 billion) of new lending. This meant we had to make tough choices when compiling this list.

To do so, we gathered as much information as possible on lenders’ 2021 activities. In a relatively opaque market, submissions made by the lenders themselves were crucial. We then scrutinised the evidence and asked key questions: Which closed the most business? Which did the needle-moving transactions? Which helped add value to Europe’s real estate? Which used their loans to promote sustainability?

Across the following pages, you will find the organisations that convinced us they are Europe’s Top 50 Lenders 2021. Enjoy discovering which ones made our list.

The Banks, Part 1

Aareal Bank

  • Senior lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2020: €4.3bn

  • Lending in 2021 to end Q3: €3.8bn

  • Loan book at end Q3 2021: €20bn

In April, the German bank closed one of the year’s major financing deals in the in-demand logistics sector, with €400 million to GLP, secured by 27 assets across France, Germany, Benelux and the UK. Aareal was also among the limited number of lenders to write loans in the recovering hotel sector. In June, it provided an “upper double-digit” million pounds loan to Cerberus and Highgate for the Dorsett City Hotel in London. It was the second green loan issued via its new Green Finance Framework. In September, it financed another hotel – the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg – for its Asian owners.

Bank of America

  • Senior, whole loan, mezzanine, loan-on-loan lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending volumes and loan book: Undisclosed

Although it did not divulge volumes, deal evidence showed the US bank has financed some of the year’s major European plays by opportunistic investors and has been a key contributor to Europe’s commercial mortgage-backed securities issuance. It provided £850 million (€1 billion) to finance two last-mile logistics portfolios for Blackstone’s Mileway, subsequently securitised as Taurus 2021-4 UK in July. In June, it teamed up with Morgan Stanley to finance Brookfield’s acquisition of a £420 million retail park portfolio from Hammerson, leading to a rare UK retail CMBS. By October, the bank had announced seven European CMBS deals worth $2.5 billion in total. Other transactions included €370 million of senior and mezzanine debt to Cerberus to finance two pan-European logistics portfolios.

Barclays Corporate Banking

  • London Docklands: Barclays financed new housing

    Senior, mezzanine, whole loan, development lender

  • Active in UK

  • Lending in 2020: €4.8bn

  • Lending in 2021 to end Q3: €5.4bn

  • Loan book at end August: €11.9bn

The bank closed several loans to support the delivery of housing in the UK. It provided a £74.5 million development loan, through its Housing Delivery Fund partnership with public body Homes England, for 209 homes at London’s Royal Eden Docks for a joint venture including Mount Anvil Group.

It also provided housebuilder Castle Green Homes with £30 million of credit to fund its growth; £82 million to Goldman Sachs’ merchant banking division for the acquisition of 918 PRS assets across northern England in January; and a £150 million loan, alongside Royal Bank of Canada, to enable Supermarket REIT to acquire assets.

Berlin Hyp

  • Capital homes: Berlin Hyp financed 63 residential assets

    Senior, development lender

  • Active in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Benelux, France

  • Lending in 2020: €5.7bn

  • Lending in 2021 to end Q3: €4.5bn

  • Loan book at end Q3 2021: €26.4bn

The German real estate lending bank has continued its sustainability efforts, making public its ESG vision in October, including the aim to be climate-neutral by 2025. It funded a repurposing scheme in the Amsterdam, with a €73.4 million loan to the Zadelhoff and Wonam groups to fund the conversion of the Zaandkasteel office building, formerly ING’s headquarters, into a mainly residential property. In its home country, in October, it provided €240 million for 10 years to Nordic sponsor Heimstaden Bostad to refinance 63 Berlin residential assets.

BNP Paribas

  • Paris: BNP Paribas financed the Etoile portfolio

    Senior, whole loan, development lender

  • Active across France, UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands

  • Lending volumes and loan book: Undisclosed

The bank was bookrunner and underwriter of an €800 million loan to finance French property company Altarea’s July acquisition of investment manager Primonial Group. It was mandated lead arranger of an €850 million financing of private investor Olayan’s Etoile estate in Paris. It acted as mandated lead arranger for a £175 million loan to Oxford Properties to develop a PRS scheme in south-east London, and led a £120 million financing of a building in west London for Tishman Speyer. In Germany, it underwrote €140 million to Ardian for an office acquisition. In Italy, it provided €230 million for two logistics portfolios for GLP.


  • Senior, mezzanine lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2020: €4.4bn

  • Lending in 2021 to end Q3: €3.5bn

  • Loan book at end Q3 2021: Undisclosed

In January, the US bank provided a €400 million facility to Crossbay, the logistics platform of manager MARK. It included €180 million of initial finance for a pan-European urban logistics portfolio and made €220 million available to fund Crossbay’s expansion in a growing property sub-sector. In June, in a joint venture with Aareal, Citi closed Project Oakwood, a circa €530 million loan to Singaporean investor GIC for a pan-European big-box logistics portfolio. The loan was the first non-recourse facility undertaken by GIC in Europe. In April, Citi provided c.€267 million to Round Hill Capital to finance its portfolio of multifamily assets in Finland. In Portugal, it provided French investor TKO with €250 million to finance the purchase of a bank-owned portfolio of 4,400 residential units.

Crédit Agricole

  • Lisbon: Crédit Agricole provided a community impact loan

    Senior, development lender

  • Active in France, Italy, Spain, UK

  • Lending in 2020: €1.9bn

  • Lending in 2021 to end Q3: €1.9bn

  • Loan book at end August: €11.2bn

In July, the French bank was behind a €28 million ‘community impact-linked’ loan to Tishman Speyer for its purchase of WPP’s Portugal HQ in Lisbon. The bank partially waives its remuneration and the sponsor makes an annual matching contribution to a Lisbon-based charity. In July, it joined two other lenders in a £420 million green loan to refinance British Land and GIC’s 100 Liverpool Street office building in the City of London. Other deals included involvement in the €800 million financing of 10,000 affordable homes in the Paris region for Foncière Cronos, and the €310 million financing of the SHiFT office building in the French capital.


  • Senior lender

  • Active in Germany, France, UK, Ireland, Italy

  • Lending in 2020: €3bn

  • Lending in 2021 to end Q3: €2bn

  • Loan book at end 2020: €10.5bn

The bank played a key role in another of Tishman Speyer’s socially focused loan deals. In August, it participated in a £120 million club refinancing of the Point office building in London’s Paddington area. As part of the deal, the lenders waive part of their annual remuneration, instead making an annual contribution to a charity, the first of which is for London’s St Mary’s Hospital. Other deals included a €77.5 million senior loan in July to GreenOak Europe Core Plus Logistics for an industrial facility in Worms, Germany. In September, DekaBank was part of a €300 million club financing for sponsors Generali Real Estate and Antirion Global Comparto Core for the Tour Saint-Gobain office building in the La Défense area of Paris.

Deutsche Bank

  • Life sciences: Deutsche Bank provided finance in the sector

    Senior mezzanine lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending in 2020: Undisclosed

  • Expected lending in 2021: c.€3bn

  • Expected loan book, end 2021: c.€8bn

Opportunities to finance life sciences real estate have been sought after by lenders this year. In July, Deutsche Bank won a coveted mandate, acting as sole lender in a circa £100 million senior acquisition financing secured by several properties in Cambridge, UK. The loan provided flexibility for the sponsor to grow the portfolio. In April, it was a mandated lead arranger of a €550 million senior financing for a Berlin office building in which loan proceeds were used to refurbish the property. In March, it was sole lender in a £225 million senior and mezzanine facility for the acquisition of a UK logistics portfolio.

Goldman Sachs

  • Senior, whole loan, bridge, development, loan-on-loan lender

  • Active across Europe

  • Lending volumes and loan book: Undisclosed

The US bank’s real estate financing group has been a major CMBS issuer in 2021. In April, it issued the €295 million Berg Finance 2021, which securitised a multi-jurisdictional portfolio of offices bought by Ares Management and Fortress Investment Group from ferry company Stena, plus a loan against office and laboratory space near Cannes in the south of France. In June, it issued the €220 million Bruegel 2021 CMBS to refinance a portfolio of Dutch properties. It also partnered with Barclays to finance a logistics portfolio for Blackstone’s Mileway in a £496 million CMBS deal. Outside the securitisation market, Goldman provided loan-on-loan finance to one of the lenders in the £1.8 billion financing of Blackstone’s purchase of UK leisure platform Bourne Leisure in January.