‘This is not a quiet Expo Real, I have a really busy schedule,’ said Jochen Schenk, CEO of German investment firm Real IS, on the opening day of the fair in Munich.
Showing his schedule for the three days of the event, Schenk said: ‘Wednesday seems empty but then I have my off-site appointments. Things are going very well. By the end of 2021 we will have invested €1.5 bn.’
Since the start of the pandemic, the subsidiary offices of Real IS in places like France, the Netherlands and Spain, have kept things going abroad. ‘We did a lot of deals, despite the travel restrictions,’ Schenk noted. Real IS is also active in Australia with its own subsidiary. Despite the very strict Covid rules there, the firm managed to do deals in Melbourne and Sydney, beating the Chinese because investment out of Hong Kong had been put temporarily on hold.
At Expo Real this year big non-German investors are rare, according to Schenk. The focus is definitely more German. Office developers are looking to sell, as larger-scale assets are scarce in places like Munich. Apple, Microsoft and Real IS' parent company BayernLB are all looking for space, and with nothing likely to become available until 2024-2025, they have decided to opt for new developments.
The scarcity is not limited to Munich, said Schenk, pointing out that DKB (Deutsche Kredit Bank) had the same experience when it was looking for space in Berlin for its new headquarters. ‘They weren’t able to find anything,’ he remarked, adding that companies are not scaling down office space - if anything, they are subletting.
Demand for office space is definitely going up because working from home for about 30% of the time is now part of the equation, said Schenk: ‘Remote working was done before corona, but in Germany it was not generally accepted. However, since the first day of the pandemic it has been working well. Now, we see a mix of working from home and going to the office as an ideal combination.’