Top 40 European lenders, part 2: The other European and North American banks

A raft of lending organisations are keen to provide finance to Europe’s real estate investors. In the second of three installments, Alicia Villegas, Lauren Parr and Doug Morrison highlight those leading the pack.

Welcome to Real Estate Capital’s Top 40 European Lenders 2017. Now in its fourth year, this list is intended to highlight those most actively providing liquidity to Europe’s property markets today.

Here, in the second of three installments, we highlight the other European (not including the UK and German) banks and the North American banks which have made the list. To see part one, covering UK and German banks, click here. Our final installment, highlighting the insurers and debt funds, will be published on 28 September.

 

THE OTHER EUROPEAN BANKS

BANK OF IRELAND

• Senior, development, mezzanine and loan-on-loan lender
• Active in Ireland, UK
• Undisclosed 2016 lending volume
• €9.3bn loan book

New lending levels this year at Bank of Ireland are “slightly ahead of 2016” and not just in its core Irish market – for as head of property finance Paul McDonnell points out, the bank is gaining momentum in real estate lending in Great Britain.

Bank of Ireland only resumed new loan origination in Great Britain in early 2016 after many years out of the market but McDonnell reports a healthy pick-up in business, despite the continuing Brexit-based uncertainty around some underlying real estate markets.
“We’re looking selectively at transactions and we’re very satisfied with the opportunities we’re getting to see,” he says.

One such opportunity was 5 Churchill Place in London’s Canary Wharf, where in March Saïd Holdings agreed a four-year, £137.5 million refinancing of existing debt with Bank of Ireland and Citi.

The 320,000 square foot office building is largely let until August 2029 to JPMorgan Markets.

As significant is the €1 billion Bank of Ireland has allocated for commercial and residential construction lending in Ireland and the UK, based on the huge housing supply/demand mismatch in both countries. It is a strategic move that sums up the bank’s overall lending ethos. As McDonnell says, the bank will stick to core sectors – and more recently, alternative asset classes such as student accommodation – “where we believe the dynamics are right and the supply and demand underpinning the market is correct”.

 

BNP PARIBAS

• Senior lender
• Active across Europe
• Undisclosed 2016 lending
and loan book size

BNP Paribas does not tend to publicise its business, but there is evidence to suggest that the French bank has made a major contribution to Europe’s real estate financing market in the past 12 months.

BNP Paribas has been active in the UK

Deals have included a leading role, alongside DekaBank, in a €625 million club financing of Hammerson and Allianz Real Estate’s Dundrum Town Centre shopping centre in Dublin in September.

The UK has also proved to be fertile ground for the bank. In August, BNP Paribas partnered with TH Real Estate for a refinancing of London & Regional’s 55 Baker Street in the West End of London, in which the French bank provided senior debt and TH was the mezzanine lender. The size of BNP Paribas’ ticket was not made public, although Allianz Real Estate subsequently took a £212 million majority participation in it and the mezzanine was revealed to be above £100 million.

Also in August, BNP Paribas was part of a club which provided a £488 million refinancing of Intu Properties’ Merry Hill shopping centre near Birmingham, UK. A month earlier, it played a role in a £400 million bank debt element to the circa £4 billion refinancing of Terra Firma’s Annington UK housing platform. In March, the bank partnered with Royal Bank of Scotland for a £210 million loan to TH Real Estate’s UK Shopping Centre Fund

In April, Real Estate Capital revealed that BNP Paribas’ asset management division, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, was planning to raise third-party capital for a real estate lending strategy.

 

CREDIT AGRICOLE

• Senior, development lender
• Active in France, UK, Italy and Spain
• €3.6bn of lending in 2016, excluding development loans
• €12bn loan book

France’s Credit Agricole proved itself an active lender in southern Europe over the past year. Its team is well recognised in Spain, having re-entered the market early in its recovery. This helped it participate in a €263 million club financing for Intu, secured against the Xanadu
shopping centre in Madrid, in March.

Its Milan office financed Amundi’s €126 million acquisition of I Tolentini, an office complex comprised of five adjacent buildings in Rome, in February. It also took part in a major €810 million portfolio refinancing for Beni Stabili in September 2016.

Credit Agricole is following long-term relationship clients in all four countries it operates in, including the UK where it is taking a more cautious approach due to Brexit. It recently acted as mandated lead arranger on a £450 million refinancing of a major four-star regional hotel portfolio on behalf of a sovereign wealth fund.

Each deal is studied and approved in Paris, with 70 percent of the bank’s lending taking place in its home market. It financed LaSalle and private equity group Ardian’s acquisition of the Europa building in Paris in June, which will be redeveloped into a Grade A office complex.

It has been a tough year for the operational performance of French hotels, although the market is recovering. Credit Agricole is currently working on a large portfolio of budget hotels, with activity in both new hotel development and refurbishment.

It also continues to provide funding to listed companies, including French retail REIT Frey.

 

NATIXIS 

• Senior lender, plus mezzanine on trophy assets
• Active in France, Spain, Italy and Germany
• €8 bn of new lending in 2016
• €7.86bn loan book as at December 2016

French bank Natixis has been active across France and southern Europe in the past 12 months. In its home market, it provided a €215 million financing of Henderson Park’s luxury Le Méridien Etoile hotel, located in Paris.

In Spain, the bank arranged a €190 million loan for TIAA and Neinver for the acquisition of a three-outlet retail portfolio – known as Project Coliseum – in the Madrid area. In Italy, it provided the €110 million ‘Project Megalo’ financing to re-leverage a regional shopping centre in Chieti, central Italy. Also in Italy, in June, it provided a €140 million loan to finance a property in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo for clients of CBRE Global Investors.
In the German market, Natixis provided €129.5 million to refinance a residential portfolio, in a deal known as Project Albert.

According to Dealogic’s figures, Natixis was the most active bookrunner across the EMEA region syndicated loans market in H1 2017, with €14.47 billion completed across 11 deals.
A joint venture between subsidiaries of the bank is also lending through a third-party debt fund. AEW Europe and Natixis Asset Management’s joint venture closed on more than €400 million for their second Senior European Loan Fund, with a final target of €750 million. By the end of June, SELF II had committed €140 million across five loans.

 

ING REAL ESTATE FINANCE

• Senior, mezzanine, whole loan and development lender
• Active in Benelux, Germany, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, CEE, US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong
• €11bn new lending in 2016
• €30bn European loan book

With a loan book of €30 billion across Europe, ING Real Estate Finance is a dominant property lender with “ambitious goals” for 2018, says Mike Shields, who leads the bank’s European lending operation.

“We want to achieve growth of about 10 percent in our European loan book” Mike Shields, ING REF

“We want to achieve growth of about 10 percent in our European loan book from last year, which would represent €32 billion,” Shields says, adding that the pipeline of deals in H2 this year is “strong” in contrast to a “very slow” first quarter.

To attain its goal, ING needs to write between €8 billion and €9 billion of new deals this year – €4 billion to €6 billion of which will be needed to replenish maturing loans.

The floating-rate lender is focused on large loans which are typically syndicated. “There are a lot of big transactions taking place at the moment, which are financed in club deals to then enter the syndicate market. I think there will be strong syndication demand for quality deals from European and Asian banks,” Shields notes.

In its stand-out deal this year, ING teamed up with HSBC and Bank of China to provide a £644 million loan for the acquisition of the Cheesegrater building in London.

The deal adds to the bank’s track record on financing trophy assets in London such as the Gherkin and the Salesforce Tower, in which ING engaged in significant syndication activity, bringing banks from Korea, Japan and China into European financing deals, the latter syndication closing last December.

ING’s strategy remains focused on core properties in major European cities, providing loans of up to 70 percent LTV. “We would like to increase our residential and logistics exposure,” Shields says.

“We see a lot of deal flow for logistics across Europe,” he explains, adding that the bank is looking at student housing financing globally.

 

SOCIETE GENERALE

• Senior, whole loan lender
• Active in France, UK, Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, Benelux, Czech Republic and Poland
• Undisclosed 2016 lending
• Undisclosed loan book

Although the French bank did not disclose its recent lending volumes, it is known to have completed significant deals across several European jurisdictions, including in southern Europe.

In February, SocGen led the €395 million refinancing of Spanish office owner LaFinca and the circa €475 million refinancing of the Krypton fund, a subsidiary of MSREF and GCI in Italy. “There is some appetite from our clients for southern Europe because they are still finding attractive yields there despite significant compression. There remains a requirement for capital investment in order for assets to be repositioned because little capital has been invested post-crisis, which means there are still some good opportunities,” says Jerome Gatipon-Bachette, Paris-based co-head of real estate structured finance.

The German market remains another area of activity for two reasons: “It has an ageing population and the nursing homes sector is fragmented, so we expect some evolution of the market. It’s an opportunity for us because we see more institutional investors looking to invest, and we have followed them,” Gatipon-Bachette says.

Following its circa €400 million financing of 69 retirement homes in July 2016 for Primonial, SocGen has completed four more German care homes deals worth around €300 million.

 

THE NORTH AMERICAN BANKS

BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH

• Senior, whole loan, mezzanine
lender
• Active across Europe
• Undisclosed 2016 lending
and loan book

Opportunistic investments by US private equity firms in Europe are driving Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s real estate financing, with an average deal size of between €200 million and €300 million.

“We have seen a steady flow of reasonably well-sized deals over the last quarter” Matthias Baltes, BAML

This year, the bank’s key deals have been sponsored by Blackstone: in Q2 2017, BAML was part of the €1.7 billion senior portion of the acquisition financing of the German OfficeFirst portfolio along with Goldman Sachs, while in May it also provided a €1.1 billion senior loan on a logistic portfolio along with Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.

Despite these large deals, BAML saw “lighter” business volumes in Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, following the market impact of the Brexit vote and key elections in continental Europe, according to Matthias Baltes, head of EMEA CRE finance.

“Large deals were less prominent, but this has begun to change slightly – we have seen a steady flow of reasonably well-sized deals over the last quarter, with activity picking up since March-April,” he says.

With the European CMBS market virtually dormant, BAML has been a major syndicator of debt. In total, the bank syndicated $3.2 billion (€2.7 billion) in 2016 across 17 deals.

 

CITI

• Senior, whole loan, loan-on-loan lender
• Active across Europe
• Average €3 billion-per-year lending in the past three years
• Undisclosed loan book

US investment bank Citi, at the time of publication, was playing a leading role in the €2.6 billion mega-financing of Blackstone’s Sponda platform in Finland – providing a major senior loan contribution.

The bank is understood to be providing a third of a €1.6 billion senior loan, alongside Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada, plus a half-share of a €600 million loan alongside Morgan Stanley. It represents one of the largest real estate financings in Europe in recent years.

Another 2017 deal was a circa £500 million refinancing of a UK portfolio for IQ Student Housing. Citi was the sole lender in a major deal for the student sector. During the years to 2016, Citi was an active loan-on-loan lender, although fewer deals in the space were available in 2016.

Its volumes for last year were not disclosed, although the banks says it has averaged €3 billion per year in the last three years.

Led in London by Wesley Barnes, Citi’s real estate lending team also includes Russell Gould and Omar El Glaoui.

 

GOLDMAN SACHS

• Senior, whole loan, bridge and capex lender (investment bank’s Real Estate Finance Group)
• Senior debt to transitional/development properties, subordinated loans to stabilised properties (merchant bank’s debt fund business)
• Active across EMEA (REFG) and major European markets (merchant bank)
• 2016 lending and loan book size not disclosed

Goldman Sachs provides real estate finance in Europe through two separate business lines, each of which have proved to be significant lenders in the past 12 months.
Within the firm’s investment bank, the Real Estate Finance Group (REFG) is led by Jan Janssen and Andrea Bora. It lends on the bank’s balance sheet and provides senior, whole loan, bridge and capex facilities. The group is on course to complete around $2 billion of lending in 2017.

In the Netherlands, the REFG was the sole whole-loan arranger in the refinancing of TPG and Patron Capital’s Merin platform, with a €337 million, five-year loan. Another stand-out deal was its role as the sole whole-loan arranger and underwriter of a circa €500 million loan to fund Pradera’s pan-European retail platform acquisition from IKEA.

Both the REFG and the debt fund business within Goldman’s merchant bank played roles in one of the year’s largest financings; Blackstone’s €2.3 billion acquisition financing for the German OfficeFirst portfolio. The investment bank provided half of the €1.7 billion senior, while the merchant bank provided half of the €500 million mezzanine loan.

The third-party debt business within the merchant bank – Real Estate Principal Investment Area – is led by Jim Garman and Richard Spencer and is investing through Broad Street Real Estate Capital Partners III. The fund typically targets around $1.5 billion to $2 billion each year, writing senior loans against transitional properties or developments, and subordinated debt against stabilised assets.

Aside from the mezzanine piece in the OfficeFirst deal, the team also provided a €163 million B-note for Blackstone’s acquisition of Blanchardstown shopping centre in Ireland in October 2016. The team is also understood to be providing the €340 million mezzanine portion of Blackstone’s €2.6 billion financing of its Finnish Sponda platform.

 

JPMORGAN

• Senior, mezzanine, loan-on-loan
lender
• Active across Europe
• €10bn-plus in the last 36 months
• Undisclosed loan book

This year, JPMorgan has increased its focus on complex loans, for which liquidity is expected to reduce as Brexit draws closer. This strategy includes refurbishment and construction loans in selected UK cities and certain countries in continental Europe, where it has been spending more time.

The bank recently closed a circa €200 million financing for Blackstone in Italy, which funded the acquisition and refurbishment of a portfolio of office properties. It has also provided a €150 million bridge loan at competitive pricing for Spanish developer Neinor Homes to acquire land – a rare offering in the market.

After a slow start to 2017 in terms of financing non-performing loan purchases – largely owing to the lengthy nature of Spanish and Italian banks’ sales processes – JPMorgan’s deal pipeline looks more active for the remainder of the year.

Another aspect of business it has been concentrating on is the financing of debt funds that are writing new loans, but need leverage of their own to hit the returns they need. JPMorgan is particularly targeting loan originators that provide complex loans underpinned by business plans involving repositioning or development, that are smaller in size (€30 million to €50 million) than the bank originates directly. The bank will typically provide financing secured on a portfolio of five to 10 loans originated by a debt fund over a set period of 12-24 months.

 

 

MORGAN STANLEY

• Senior, stretched senior, loan-on-loan, warehouse facility lender
• Active across Europe
• $5bn-plus new lending in 2016
• Undisclosed loan book

Morgan Stanley has continued to find big-ticket deals, including the £334 million senior refinancing of the CityPoint office tower in London for Brookfield in January. The bank also arranged a £305 million loan for iQ Student Accommodation to refinance its Westbourne portfolio in January.

In its latest deal, the bank is partnering Citi and two other lenders to provide senior debt in Blackstone’s €2.6 billion Finnish platform financing.

A year ago, aware of high competition for large deals, Morgan Stanley made the decision to broaden its offering to include conduit lending and CMBS warehousing. “We’re seeing interest from CMBS investors in aggregated smaller-balance loans, which have been made to borrowers typically wanting to buy back their debt from private equity firms,” says Stephen Dyer, head of European commercial real estate lending.

The lender’s ability and appetite to hold significant pieces of deals has also grown, while its key client base has expanded to the top 15 to 20 global investors, rather than the top five.
Clients have been pushing into the Netherlands and Scandinavia, volumes have been increasing in Spain and Italy, and the bank sees more activity on the horizon in CEE regions.

Morgan Stanley has been backing more healthcare deals, and at the start of this year was particularly focused on logistics. In October 2016, it refinanced P3’s western Europe portfolio of 64 logistics assets across six jurisdictions with a €600 million loan.

On the loan-on-loan front, the bank reports financing a couple of circa €500 million deals this year, with Spain and Italy at the centre of market activity.

 

ROYAL BANK OF CANADA

• Senior, whole loan, junior and
loan-on-loan lender
• Active in UK, Ireland, western Europe, Scandinavia
• Undisclosed 2016 lending
and loan book

RBC Real Estate Capital Partners, Royal Bank of Canada’s European real estate lending division, has originated more than €1 billion so far this year. In the past 12 months, the Dallas and London-headquartered real estate lending unit has written and participated in significant deals.

The bank participated in the Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch financing of OfficeFirst in Germany for Blackstone, taking a €550 million slice of the €1.7 billion.

It is also understood to be participating in Blackstone’s €2.6 billion financing of its Finnish platform.

Alongside two other lenders, the bank provided a £305 million senior loan secured by a UK student accommodation portfolio for Vero Group. In addition, RBC originated a £180 million acquisition facility collateralised by 16 Logicor logistics assets in the UK.

This year’s lending has focused on senior loans, although the bank has the flexibility to provide senior, whole loans and junior loans, as well as loan-on-loan finance. The bank is a balance sheet lender, which participates in club deals and buys into syndications. The firm’s European real estate lending unit is headed by Axel Brinkmann and based in London.

 

WELLS FARGO

• Senior, whole loan, development, loan-on-loan, unsecured/corporate, warehouse lender
• Active in UK and Ireland
• £2bn new lending in 2016
• $10bn loan book

Wells Fargo has established itself as a key player in the UK and Ireland. A major deal was the December financing of Quintain’s 85-acre Wembley Park masterplan development; the US bank led the £800 million financing, lending alongside AIG in the £560 million senior facility and CPPIB in the £240 million mezzanine portion. It is also financing individual PRS schemes for the likes of LaSalle and Legal & General.

Wells financed PRS near Wembley Stadium

The bank is growing activity in the student accommodation sector, having recently closed a £107 million loan to support the forward funding of six developments across the UK for Europa Generation. Wells Fargo underwrote the whole loan and sold down the junior piece to PGIM Real Estate.

“We’re doing more and more corporate lending, both secured and unsecured,” says Michael Acratopulo, head of origination. Wells Fargo has provided financing to Segro, Intu and Tritax on this basis.

Though the market for big portfolio trades has been quieter, such deals “play to our strengths” says Acratopulo. Wells Fargo underwrote almost £300 million of finance for TPG’s acquisition of Arlington Business Parks Partnership in August. In May, it supported Oxenwood Real Estate and AIMCO’s purchase of the ‘Ultrabox’ portfolio of UK warehouses with a £151 million loan.

“We are active in development finance; there remain interesting opportunities in the office sector,” Acratopulo says, pointing to a £35 million financing of the Landmark Manchester office scheme in August.

SHARE