EDITOR'S LETTER: An extraordinary end to a crazy year

As 2020 draws to a close, PropertyEU editor-in-chief Robin Marriott looks back on an extraordinary year and how it impacted on European real estate.

As the year draws to a close, there seems to be an acceleration of deals to get over the line.

As I have been speaking with top laws firms recently, let me pass on that they report several very significant transactions being worked on, which might get done this side of 2021.
Our most recent Data Sheet backs up this anecdotal evidence – the latest one at press time (11 December) suggested closing year-end deals have surged above €2 bn for the second week running.

What an extraordinary year, and what an end to it.

On the deal side, which is this publication’s core interest, we are on course for a year in which agents says annual European volume will be 18-25% lower than in 2019. Broker Knight Frank said that the market fell 18% in the first three quarters and CBRE projects a 25% drop by year-end. By the way, the only reason we are not down by more is because of a tremendously strong Q1 before Covid-19 spiked us.

Somehow, Europe has not fared as badly as the world in general. Global real estate volume is down 33%, while the US has crashed the worst at -41%. The question now is to what extent the late flurry we are in the midst of can mitigate the fall.

In this issue, we bring a little bit of closure to 2020. We put the spotlight on how Covid-19 accelerated retail trends, and therefore the necessary reincarnation of retail property firms. There is a message of hope in this special report and we hope you enjoy it at this festive shopping time.

In addition, our reporter Virna Asara presents an annual wrap of deals, including her top five picks of trades that said a lot about the market this year. We also present our annual Law Firm Ranking. This unique research shows which legal firms advised on most of the biggest 25 deals to have taken place. This is always an interesting exercise as it forces us to research all the transactions, some private, and rank them by size.

Unless something bigger gets closed between now and 31 December, the largest deal of 2020 will turn out to be one of the earliest to be announced – the sale by Goldman Sachs and The Wellcome Trust of IQ Student Accommodation to Blackstone for €5.26 bn. (That is, if you do not classify telephone cell towers as real estate, in which case the biggest would be Cellnex’s €10 bn acquisition of tower assets from CK Hutchison).

Thank you to all our readers this year and see you in 2021.

Robin Marriott, editor-in-chief

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