AXA makes it four in Natixis’s club to finance CBRE GI French portfolio

Natixis has completed a four- lender syndicate for a €666m portfolio of 12 French shopping centres, after underwriting the whole €406.5m funding last year.

The assets are managed by CBRE Global Investors on behalf of the CBRE Retail Property Fund France Belgium.

Jerome Lacombe, RPFFB’s chief finance officer, said: “It was important to have a limited pool of lenders who understand our market and fund, and who would be good business partners.

“We knew there were lenders hungry for retail exposure and Natixis had funded one of our joint-venture assets. They came out with very competitive terms.”

Lacombe said Natixis’s willingness to provide a full underwriting midway through 2013 “was not common at that time, when there was quite limited liquidity in France”.

Allianz Real Estate, then ING Real Estate Finance and lastly AXA Real Estate have joined the syndicate; Natixis holds about 20% of the loan.

“We wanted an underwriter and arranger to hold a significant piece and that ruled out other banks in 2013,” Lacombe said. “We didn’t want small pieces of debt placed; we wanted a small pool who know the sector and  are there for the long term.”

He added: “We were quite impressed with the level of interest this created during Q4 2013 and liquidity is continuing to improve in 2014, although the big pockets of money are only for deals that tick all the boxes.

“We offered a balanced portfolio, decent LTV and there is potential upside.” The hedged, floating-rate loan is for three-years, to fit the closed- ended fund’s remaining life and to enable potential sales, as well as the restructuring of three centres. It includes a capital expenditure facility, the loan- to-value level is 61% and the margin about 200 basis points.

The largest asset, La Vache Noire in southern Paris, developed by Multi Corporation seven years ago, is worth €200m. The new facility refinances a maturing BNP Paribas, West-Immo, ING and CIC Group loan.

RPFFB aims to refinance other assets in the fund during this year, Lacombe said. They include two Belgian shopping centres worth about €200m Lefèvre Pelletier & Associates advised CBREGI.