ECE takes big diversification step

ECE, the German real estate company best known for its shopping-related activities, has formed a joint venture to develop a residential project in London.

The Hamburg-based firm has revealed its involvement in a previously announced project by Art-Invest Real Estate which said earlier this month it was developing a 10,600 m2 project comprising 88 luxury apartments, commercial space and 15 affordable housing units on a one-acre site in Cleveland Street in the west end of London to the north of Oxford Street.

Art-Invest said on 12 July the €190 mln (€212 mln) scheme marked its UK debut and was set for completion in 2021 having bought the site from US firm, Starwood Capital.

Art-Invest did not mention ECE, but the pair have now revealed their joint venture. A spokesperson for ECE told PropertyEU that above all, this was a first step as ECE’s maiden development in the UK, and a project that the company wanted to learn from. ECE believes it can build up experience in the ‘promising’ UK residential market in this way.

‘The first aim is to develop various products to understand the real estate market and build up a strategy based on this experience,’ explained the spokesperson.

ECE does not have a ‘fixed aim of investments’ for the next few years, he added. He continued, ‘At the same time, it is an important step for us as it is an opportunity for us to diversify particularly our non-shopping activities and extend them to international markets. These non-shopping activities of ECE comprise a planning and construction volume of approximately €1.5 bn and have been mainly limited to Germany so far.’

In a general statement to the real estate market, ECE’s CIO Henrie Koetter, said, ‘We are very positive about the long-term prospects for UK real estate. The project in collaboration with Art-Invest Real Estate, who are one of the most respected investor developers in Europe, was a unique opportunity to enter this sector for the first time.’

ECE has 195 shopping assets under management with a current market value of €33 bn. But the family-owned company also develops large-scale real estate projects such as corporate headquarters, office and industrial buildings, logistics centres, hotels, residential properties, and city districts. 

Art-Invest Real Estate UK’s managing partner, Ali Abbas, said: ‘ECE is a natural joint venture partner for us on our first development in the UK. Its approach to real estate and its commitment to excellence is completely aligned with our strategic values.’

Art-Invest Real Estate just recently announced the opening of its new London office to strengthen local presence and to pursue a ‘targeted’ early stage investment strategy.


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