ING REF hits post-crisis high with €9.5bn of new lending in 2015

ING Real Estate Finance (REF) had a post-crisis record year of lending in 2015 with a total of €9.5 billion of new debt provided during the period.

ING Real Estate Finance (REF) had a post-crisis record year of lending in 2015 with a total of €9.5 billion of new debt provided during the period.

In addition, the Dutch bank’s real estate division extended a total of €4.2 billion of debt at maturity, bringing the year’s total origination to €13.7 billion. The total smashed the previous year’s volumes. In 2014, ING REF wrote €4.5 billion of new loans and extended €5.5 billion of debt.

ING REF’s lending volumes in 2015 are likely to make it the largest lender to European real estate last year, although German banks’ final results are yet to be published.

“Last year was exceptional,” says Michael Shields, head of ING REF for Western Europe, the UK and USA. “The UK and France led the way, followed by Spain and Poland. We also did a lot of business in the Netherlands. We were in full origination mode. We were aggressive and we wanted to win deals.”

The majority of the 80 deals in 2015 were written in Europe, although ING REF also made its return to lending in the US market last May, with €675 million of loans closed in the US by year-end.

Michael Shields
Michael Shields

Last year’s total is unlikely to be repeated during 2016, Shields said, although he stressed that the bank has a “healthy” target for REF lending this year. The real estate loan book stands at just over €27 billion, from around €22 billion at the end of last February.

Among last year’s deals, ING jointly underwrote a €670 million loan to AEW Europe and China Investment Corporation to finance the circa €1.3 billion purchase of the Celsius portfolio of French, Belgian and Dutch retail. Almost €300 million of the facility was syndicated, with Bank of China taking around €200 million as joint mandated lead arranger. A €50 million participation was sold to China Construction Bank and the same amount was sold to ING’s NN Group account.

Last October, the bank also funded GWM Group’s £110 million purchase of 16-17 Connaught Place in London with a £55 million senior five-year loan. During the same month, ING and ABN Amro provided a €240 million five-year loan to Dutch real estate manager Merin to refinance its portfolio of 175 offices and industrial assets. The loan was provided on a 50/50 basis.

ING’s REF syndication team, which is headed by Jean-Maurice Elkouby, sold down more than €2.2 billion during 2015. Of that total, 40 percent was from UK deals, 22 percent from French deals, 11 percent from Polish deals and 11 percent from Dutch deals. German banks bought 25 percent of the total, while 24 percent went to Chinese banks and 21 percent to Japanese banks.

Syndication activity included the sell-down of the £365 million loan which ING had written to the Safra family in December 2014 to finance the London’s ‘Gherkin’ building at 30 St Mary Axe. Participations were sold to Japanese banks Shinsei and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, as well as LBBW and another German bank.

ING REF also syndicated the £170 million loan which it wrote to Hong Kong-based businessman Hui Wing Mau to finance the £264 million acquisition of London’s Christchurch Court from Deka Immobilien. Shinsei and Bank of China each took a £40 million participation.