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Parking house sector
Real estate and infrastructure investment manager Bouwfonds REIM, part of the co-operative Dutch Rabo Real Estate Group and parent company Rabobank, has certainly not been letting the grass grow under its feet since establishing its original European Parking Fund. REFIRE met recently with Bouwfonds REIM’s German management to look at the parking house fund programme, and we could feel the fund manager’s enthusiasm for the sector.
We’ve kept an eye on the sector over the years, and have seen it develop from an exotic niche segment (although not quite on a par with large Ferris wheels, which were all the rage a few years ago…) into almost a mainstream asset class. Stricter controls on street-side city-centre parking, zealous clampers and towers-away, and more competitive offers from parking house operators have improved the profitability of the sector for the operators, and hence investors.
Now Bouwfonds REIM has just held its final closing for its second institutional Parking Fund, and has raised a total equity commitment of €187m, with firepower for €270m of managed assets. The fund-raising was apparently well-oversubscribed. The new fund is structured as a German real estate vehicle – an “Immobilien-Spezialfonds” targeted exclusively at German institutional investors - and invests in a diversified pan-European portfolio of first-class car parks with an obvious focus on inner-city locations, but also on parking facilities near key transport hubs and those adjoining hospitals.. The fund has already bought its first assets I the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, and expects to be fully invested by the end of 2014.
From head office in the Netherlands, the company’s CEO Jaap Gillis commented, “Next to commercial and residential real estate, communication infrastructure and agriculture, car parks is one of the five sectors Bouwfonds REIM focuses on. A couple of years ago we were the first with a pan-European car park fund for institutional investors. This fund is fully invested and has €270m of assets under management spread over 20 car parks in five countries. Meanwhile we have become one of the leading institutional fund managers in the car park market in Europe.”
Ruud Roosen, fund director of the new Bouwfonds European Parking Fund II, also waxed enthusiastic. “Car parks offer great investment opportunities. Over the last five years, car park investments have outperformed the general real estate segments. Despite the economic circumstances, they have generated solid returns. Car park investments offer stable and secured cash flows with long-term leases.”
Meanwhile, Rabo Real Estate Group in the Netherlands has announced that it is exiting the business of commercial property project development. Its subsidiary MAB Development will see out all existing projects, but not take on anything new. The company was involved in high-profile German projects such as MyZeil in Frankfurt and the Überseequartier in Hamburg in the recent past, and is still developing shopping centres in Solingen (with joint-venture partner Sonae Sierra) and in Ulm.