Italian insurer Cattolica steps into Dutch retail as part of internationalisation strategy

The acquisition of a stake in Dutch fund manager Altera Retail marks the Italian insurer’s first international real estate investment and is part of a strategy to build up a portfolio abroad worth up to €250 mln over the next five years.

Cattolica Assicurazioni, one of Italy's oldest insurance groups, has made its first real estate investment abroad with the acquisition of a minority stake in Dutch fund manager Altera Retail. The acquisition of an undisclosed amount is part of the Milan listed group's plans to diversify its property holdings which so far have been focused solely on Italy. According to market sources, the stake is believed to represent less than 5% of Altera's share capital.

In total, Cattolica owns €1.5 bn of real estate assets across the hotel, logistics, retail, office, residential and healthcare sectors. Looking forward, plans are to build up a portfolio worth up to €250 mln over the next five years. In particular, the group's international strategy will focus on indirect investments in core funds and established fund managers active in the core European countries across all property sectors.

'The investment in the retail portfolio of Altera is the first non-domestic investment for Cattolica and it marks the beginning of a current pan-European strategy in this business,' , Salvatore Ciccarello, managing director of Cattolica's real estate arm, told PropertyEU. 'One of the main factors that guided our investment decision is the fund's track record, which has shown stable performance since its establishment in 2000. But it is also a capital efficient operation, because the absence of leverage leads to less capital absorption for regulatory purposes of the Solvency II regime, and thanks to which we have been able to strengthen the retail component of our portfolio, while increasing the diversification of the tenants with whom we collaborate. I like to remind you that thanks to this operation, we have entered a market with robust and growing economic and real estate fundamentals like the Dutch one.'

Altera Retail was launched in 2000 as a non-listed core strategy, currently holding over €720 mln in AUM and a diversified shareholder base of 25 institutional investors of multiple European origin. The strategy focuses on Dutch neighbourhood shopping centres anchored by food and convenience. CBRE Capital Advisors acted as placement agent to raise international capital for Altera Retail.

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