German giant to put half a billion into Ireland

Commerz Real is planning to invest at least half a billion euros in Dublin offices and residential after buying its first asset in Ireland.

The German fund manager’s acquisition of the 1&2 Dockland Central multi-let office building from Hibernia REIT last week for €152.3 mln came after a two-year search for a debut transaction.

Commerz’s new CEO, Henning Koch, said the group has a second asset under offer, ‘a residential development worth a couple of hundred million euros'.

The two assets are for the portfolio of flagship open-ended fund Hausinvest and Koch said the manager might also invest in Ireland for its European Smart Living Fund.

The Dockland Central 4.75% yield was ‘pretty attractive compared to London, Paris or German cities. But additionally Ireland is a growth story and this is a bet on its future’, Koch added.

Speaking at Expo, Koch said the transaction team would also be going to the UK in the next two weeks, ‘to warm up opportunities'.

The group is believed to have been one of the parties which was interested in British Land’s Canada Water development, in Southwark, at 53 acres one of the largest regeneration sites in London, though it is not proceeding with the opportunity.

This year Koch expects his team to total circa €3.5 bn of buying and selling, an increase on last year’s €2.3 bn when he admits to ‘absolutely being cautious. 2020 was more a year for asset management'.

The biggest acquisition in 2021, for well over $700 mln, was a New York office tower, 100 Pearl Street, while the largest sale was Munich’s Highlight Towers. Both were for Hausinvest, with Highlight Towers about taking profits in a €700 mln deal after buying five years ago for €520 mln and completing asset management initiatives.

Almost alone among its peers, Commerz Real has shunned logistics. Koch said ‘it was not an easy decision (when everyone else is buying in the sector), but we believe it is too expensive'.

‘We bought in Manhattan because no-one else wanted to buy there and we strongly believe in these metropolitan cities.’