There are clear advantages to buying a business like WestImmo. The bank has been busy writing profitable new loans – €6.2bn across all markets in 2009 – and is among a club of German lenders becoming steadily more competitive for new business, which are said to be squeezing UK margins below 200 basis points to win clients.
Led in London by Peter Denton, WestImmo has been one of the most active banks in the UK. It has not made the biggest bilateral loans or taken the largest participations, but along with rival Eurohypo, arranged all of last year’s big UK club deals, including the refinancings of Capital Shopping Centres’ Lakeside in Thurrock, St Davids shopping centre in Cardiff (also for CSC, and Land Securities), and Bicester Village for Value Retail.
This month Denton’s team wrote an £82.6m loan for Meyer Bergman’s purchase of a 50% interest in the Bentall Centre in Kingston from Aviva Investors. WestImmo issued €2.2bn of pfandbrief and uncovered bonds in the first half of 2009, compared to €2bn in all of 2008. Its 2010 global origination target is £7.5bn, 10-15% of it in the UK. Denton said recently: “People see WestImmo as a functioning business rather than a loan book and it is important for everyone that we do business.”