Benson Elliot Capital Management
December 2, 2014 Benson Elliot moves into Wolverhampton with £59 million Mander Centre acquisition Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has acquired the Mander Centre in Wolverhampton city centre from Mander Investments Ltd. for £59 million, in a continuation of its expansive UK regional investment programme. The shopping centre currently produces a net initial yield of 6.5%, which is set to increase to 8.5 – 9.0% following the completion of a comprehensive reconfiguration programme.

With a combined area of approximately 620,000 sq ft, the Mander Centre is the dominant in-town shopping offer in Wolverhampton, comprising a two-level covered scheme of 103 retail units, with c. 55,000 sq ft of ancilliary offices and a 530 space, multi-storey car park. The Centre serves an extensive primary retail catchment (430,000 people) and generates exceptional footfall (17 million p.a.).

In June, planning permission was granted to reconfigure the Mander Centre to deliver a 90,000 sq ft new build anchor store, together with 9 larger format units, all arranged around a new atrium and a re-constructed retail mall. The anchor store has been pre-let to Debenhams, who will join existing brands Boots, BHS, JD Sports, New Look, Starbucks, Clarks, H Samuel, The Entertainer and Costa Coffee, amongst others.

Marc Mogull, Benson Elliot Managing Partner, said:
“Over the past few years, we’ve been pursuing a strong and successful UK regional investment programme, having identified early on the growth story now unfolding in regions like the West Midlands. In-town shopping centres – many suffering from under-investment – have been an important component of that programme.

“The Mander Centre is a well-located, robust business with a solid profile and a loyal customer base. With committed ownership, strong in-house retail expertise and a focussed capital programme, we believe there is a significant opportunity to rejuvenate the Mander Centre, making it once again the centrepiece of a thriving Wolverhampton city centre.”

Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton City Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration and Prosperity said:
“These are momentous times for our city, with a level of activity we haven’t known since the 1960s. It’s a clear sign of the progress Wolverhampton’s making that a major private equity firm like Benson Elliot should want a stake in its future. They have great plans for the Mander Centre – and on behalf of the council and all its partners, I’d like to welcome them to a city that is really making it happen”.

Peter Cornforth, Director of Retail at Benson Elliot, said:
“The City’s embarked on a £1bn plus regeneration programme to deliver significant improvements to both the built environment and the range of facilities on offer to visitors, shoppers, workers and residents. We’re confident that a revitalised Mander can make a key contribution to Wolverhampton’s exciting future.”

Jackson Criss advised Benson Elliot, while Cushman & Wakefield acted for Mander Investments Ltd.

ENDS

For further information:

FTI Consulting

Dido Laurimore / Claire Turvey
+44 (0) 20 3727 1000
Dido.laurimore@fticonsulting.com
Claire.turvey@fticonsulting.com

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November 25, 2014 Ealing exits deliver over £100 million for Benson Elliot Disposals to Aviva and Pramerica support fund manager’s early move beyond central London

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, announces the sale to Aviva Investors of Ealing Cross, a grade A office building in Ealing town centre, and the completion of a forward sale of 1-8 The Broadway – also in Ealing – to Pramerica Real Estate Investors. The sale of 1-8 The Broadway, constituting the first phase of Benson Elliot’s re-development of the Arcadia Portfolio, was agreed in January of this year. The combined sale price of the twin disposals is north of £100 million.

Ealing Cross
Benson Elliot acquired Ealing Cross, the highest quality, most modern office building in Ealing, in June 2013. Soon after acquisition, Benson Elliot initiated a refurbishment of the 133,400 square foot building’s common areas, secured planning permission to more than double parking provision and, in November 2013, rolled out a new marketing and letting strategy. During the subsequent months Benson Elliot secured five new tenants, increasing occupancy at Ealing Cross from 68% to 93%, and improving significantly the building’s income profile.

1-8 The Broadway
The forward sale to Pramerica of 1-8 The Broadway was announced in January 2014. Completion of the £37.4 million transaction marks the culmination of a transformational re-development of the former Arcadia Shopping Centre, with the handover of three new store units to major high street retailers Morrisons (47,000 sq ft), TK Maxx (43,000 sq ft) and McDonalds (9,000 sq ft).

Trish Barrigan, Benson Elliot Senior Partner, said:
“We’re real believers in the investment attractions of Ealing, and pleased with the central role we’ve been able to play in the transformation of that community’s town centre. On Ealing Cross, the property’s strong letting performance and an unsolicited approach persuaded us to exit earlier than planned, but we’re confident Aviva will be good stewards of this prime asset going forward. At Benson Elliot we’ll now focus our attention on the re-development of the remainder of the Broadway site, working with local planning officials and community groups to conceive an exciting new retail and residential offering for Ealing’s Crossrail gateway.”

Strutt & Parker and GCW advised Benson Elliot on the sale of 1-8 The Broadway, while JLL advised on the Ealing Cross transaction.

ENDS

For further information:

Benson Elliot
Trish Barrigan, Senior Partner
Matilda Lane
+44 (0) 20 7808 8900
Matilda.lane@bensonelliot.com

FTI Consulting
Dido Laurimore / Claire Turvey
+44(0) 20 3727 1000
Dido.laurimore@fticonsulting.com
Claire.turvey@fticonsulting.com

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November 6, 2014 Benson Elliot sells CBXII office scheme to Blackrock for £35m First post-crisis UK regional investment exited after successful completion of refurbishment and re-letting programme

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has sold CBXII in Milton Keynes to Blackrock for £35 million, reflecting a net initial yield of 7.0%.

CBXII, a 150,000 sq ft mixed-use office and retail scheme, is prominently located on Midsummer Boulevard, within the Central Milton Keynes Business District. The property was acquired by Benson Elliot Real Estate Partners II, L.P. (the “Fund”) in 2010, with a view to upgrading the quality of the office accommodation, improving tenant mix and covenant strength and increasing rental levels. CBX II is split over three buildings on Midsummer Boulevard: Midsummer East, Midsummer West and Midsummer Court.

Benson Elliot has accumulated over £1 billion in UK regional office and retail investments since the acquisition of CBX II, as part of its “Reach for the Regions” programme. In commenting last year on the firm’s UK investment activities, Benson Elliot Managing Partner explained that: “The spread between prime London yields and the best of the rest was getting too wide to be justified by fundamentals. People sometimes forget how little new stock has been delivered outside London over the past few years.”

At CBX II, Benson Elliot managed a £4.2 million refurbishment programme, fully modernising all office accommodation in the building, creating new retail space and improving reception and common areas. The property has benefited post-refurbishment from the growing demand for high quality regional office accommodation, and is today 80% let. New tenants welcomed to the building since the Fund’s acquisition include Global Radio, New Era (baseball cap manufacturer), and Ingram Micro (electronics). The ground floor retail offer is anchored by JD Wetherspoon and Pizza Express.

James Jakeman, Benson Elliot Principal, said:

“CBXII was Benson Elliot’s first UK investment, and it’s been a great success for our investors. The asset’s performance has validated our thesis of buying into an expected return of tenant demand in the regions, creating the kind of high quality product that would be attractive to leading UK investors. Having transitioned the asset back to core, the time is right to release the value created.”

Allsop advised Benson Elliot while Blackrock was advised by Tudor Toone.

ENDS

For further information:

Benson Elliot
Trish Barrigan, Senior Partner
Matilda Lane
+44 (0) 20 7808 8900
Matilda.lane@bensonelliot.com

FTI Consulting
Dido Laurimore / Claire Turvey
+44(0) 20 3727 1000
Dido.laurimore@fticonsulting.com
Claire.turvey@fticonsulting.com

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October 29, 2014 Benson Elliot completes purchase of Templeback in Bristol Prime city-centre office building added to firm’s burgeoning UK regional portfolio

Benson Elliot, the private equity real estate fund manager, today announces the acquisition of Templeback, a 122,000 sq ft, BREEAM Excellent office development in the heart of Bristol’s commercial area. The acquisition adds another high quality asset to Benson Elliot’s UK office portfolio, underscoring the firm’s continuing commitment to its regional investment strategy.

Templeback was acquired from UK & European Investments, which completed the development in 2009. Arranged over six floors, the building offers flexible floorplates of 22,000 sq ft, which are easily divisible to meet demand from occupiers requiring 5,000 sq ft or more. Benson Elliot will undertake a modest refurbishment of the building before re-launching it to the market.

James Jakeman, Principal at Benson Elliot, said:
“We are pleased to have worked with UK & European on this transaction. This opportunity bears all the hallmarks of the kind of investment Benson Elliot is striving to make in the UK – a high quality asset in a recognised business location with strong and improving transport links. We continue to believe in the investment case offered by key regional office markets across the UK.”

Barney Kelham, UK CEO of UK & European, said:
“This has been a successful off market transaction and we are delighted with the result achieved. We feel this is the right moment in the cycle to sell the asset and take advantage of the recent significant improvement in the wider UK regional office investment market. This strategic sale provides us with an opportunity to reinvest capital and to continue to focus our attention on new opportunities.”

Farmer Capital advised the purchaser.

For more information please visit: www.templeback.com

ENDS

For further information:

Benson Elliot

Marc Mogull, Managing Partner
+44 (0) 20 7808 8900

FTI Consulting

Dido Laurimore / Claire Turvey
+44 (0) 20 3727 1000
Dido.laurimore@fticonsulting.com
Claire.turvey@fticonsulting.com

Brunswick Group

Nina Coad / Alice Mitchell
+44 (0)20 7404 5959

About UK & European
UK & European is a privately owned property development and investment company, based in London. They have a substantial investment portfolio across all property sectors (commercial and residential), as well as an extensive development programme with current projects in office, industrial, residential and mixed use, in London and throughout the Europe. www.ukandeuropean.com

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July 31, 2014 Argent’s Eleven Brindleyplace sold to Benson Elliot Leading property developer, Argent has completed the sale of its award-winning Eleven Brindleyplace office building in Birmingham to a fund managed by Benson Elliot, in a deal that reflects growing confidence in the regional office investment market.

Contracts were exchanged today, and the deal for the 108,000 sq ft Grade A building – which has a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating – is due to be completed in the next three weeks.

James Heather, Partner at Argent, said: “Benson Elliot’s unsolicited approach to purchase Eleven Brindleyplace led us to consider the future of our ownership and highlighted the growing interest and confidence in the regional office market.

“Our decision to now sell the building is both a response to the improving market conditions and also provides the opportunity to fully concentrate on the growing momentum for our Paradise Circus scheme in Birmingham which is due to start on site later this year.

“Eleven Brindleyplace has a track record of attracting many well-respected and valued occupiers, who have chosen to locate their businesses within an actively managed building. We are pleased to be able to announce that Colliers have recently extended the term of their lease within Eleven Brindleyplace and will shortly commit to a full refurbishment of their demise. We are confident that Benson Elliot will continue to develop the offer and will maximise the opportunities the building presents.”

Since its construction in 2009, Eleven Brindleyplace has proven to be a successful building, offering floorplates of around 8,500 sq ft to occupiers with requirements for smaller, high quality office accommodation. In 2010 Eleven Brindleyplace was named ‘Best of the Best National Commercial Workplace’ by the British Council for Offices.

James Jakeman, Principal at Benson Elliot, said: “Eleven Brindleyplace is a signature building with an existing list of prestigious tenants from across the professional services sectors. It is a substantial investment asset and a welcome addition to our portfolio.

“With its focus on smaller, high quality floorplates, Eleven Brindleyplace represents a unique proposition within the Birmingham office market. Its location on a managed, mixed-use estate puts amenities and public transport links on its doorstep. We are very pleased that we have been able to come to an agreement with Argent.”

Eleven Brindleyplace features a number of innovations, including Meetingspace, which offers state-of-the-art, internally-managed meeting room facilities and a stylish business lounge. These facilities are open to use by all building tenants, removing the need for them to incorporate meeting rooms into their floorplates.

Current occupiers at Eleven Brindleyplace include Allegis, Capita, Friend LLP, Global Radio, Hettle Andrews & Associates, Robert Walters, TEK Systems & Aston Carter, the West Midlands headquarters of the Institute of Directors, Colliers International and Argent.

Benson Elliot was represented by GVA in the sale, with GBR Phoenix Beard acting on behalf of Argent. Benson Elliot has appointed Cube Real Estate as asset manager.

For more information, visit www.elevenbrindleyplace.co.uk

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July 14, 2014 Benson Elliot extends Spanish investment programme with regional shopping centre acquisition Albacete’s Imaginalia to be transformed into vibrant retail and leisure destination

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, announces the acquisition of the Imaginalia shopping centre in Albacete, Spain from funds managed by AXA Real Estate.

Benson Elliot is planning a major capital expenditure programme to transform the c. 45,000 sqm shopping centre, tapping into increasing consumer demand as Spain accelerates its recovery from recession. Completed in 2006 by Spanish developer Procom, Imaginalia benefits from limited local competition. The centre is currently 82% occupied by a mix of 33 tenants, with major tenants including Alcampo (hypermarket), Media Markt (consumer electronics), Yelmo (cinema) and Toys R Us (toys). The centre provides surface and underground parking for 2,100 cars.

Albacete, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La-Mancha, is a regionally dominant city with a diversified economy and a growing population of 172,000. It lies halfway between Madrid and the Valencia/Alicante coast. Albacete is seeing population and economic growth on the back of Spain’s economic recovery. In its latest country report on Spain, the International Monetary Fund observed that the Spanish economy had “turned the corner” and, of particular relevance to Imaginalia, that “private consumption is rebounding”.

Trish Barrigan, Benson Elliot Senior Partner, said:

“We were an early entrant into the Spanish market, as past experience in the country gave us the confidence to anticipate a return to economic growth and a recovery of the Spanish consumer. Imaginalia already attracts nearly four million visitors each year, and we believe our plans for the centre – as the Spanish recovery accelerates – will drive those numbers significantly higher. We are encouraged by the enduring commitment Imaginalia’s key tenants have shown to the centre through a tough economic environment.”

Benson Elliot has a strong in-house retail team, who will oversee the re-configuration and re-positioning of Imaginalia. We expect to make Imaginalia a more vibrant retail destination, in part by enhancing the leisure offer. Initial conversations with potential occupiers have given us confidence that there is significant demand amongst retailers to be present in a rejuvinated Imaginalia.”

Benson Elliot entered the recovering Spanish market in 2011 with its Cornerstone office development project in Barcelona. Within seven months of handover Benson Elliot had signed two significant leases, with business outsourcing solutions provider ADP and leading German consumer products company Henkel taking overall occupancy in the scheme to 64%.

International real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield acted as advisers to Axa Real Estate.

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June 28, 2014 Double prelet is a hat trick in Milton Keynes

Estates Gazette

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June 27, 2014 Benson Elliot pre-lets 50,000 sq ft to American duo at CBX II in Milton Keynes Ten year leases with Ingram Micro and New Era take occupancy to 80% at Midsummer Boulevard office complex

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has pre-let 50,000 sq ft of office space at CBX II, its 150,000 sq ft mixed-use scheme in Milton Keynes. The lettings bring occupancy to c. 80 per cent, and evidence the growing demand for high quality regional office accommodation.

Electronics company Ingram Micro has taken 30,000 sq ft over 3 floors at the Midsummer West building on a 10-year term. Ingram Micro, a US-based Fortune 500 company, is the world’s largest wholesale technology products distributor, sourcing products from prominent manufacturers such as Acer, Apple, IBM and Microsoft.

New Era, the American fashion brand, has leased 20,000 sq ft across the first floor of Midsummer East and Midsummer West, also on a 10-year term. Established in 1920, New Era is the exclusive manufacturer of the official on-field caps worn by every Major League Baseball team and their minor league affiliates. The company produces more than 35 million caps per year and has quickly become an iconic fashion brand in the UK.

Philip Irons, Partner, Benson Elliot, said:
“Welcoming two substantial American companies that are both leaders in their fields is a ringing endorsement for our refurbishment strategy at CBX II. It reinforces the trend that we are seeing of growing demand for high quality office accommodation in the regions, particularly in locations like Milton Keynes that offer fast access to London and other major UK cities.”

Prominently located within the Central Milton Keynes Business District, CBX II is a modern, mixed-use development comprising c. 150,000 sq ft of office and retail space. Office accommodation is split over three buildings on Midsummer Boulevard – Midsummer East, Midsummer West and Midsummer Court. Benson Elliot acquired CBX II in March 2010 with a view to increasing occupancy through an active asset management programme, capitalising on anticipated demand for quality space in the regions. Other tenants in CBX II include Regus, Global Radio and All Bar One.

Benson Elliot was advised by XLB, CBRE, Bidwells and Louch Shacklock.

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June 26, 2014 H&M’s possible move to Yeovil is ‘game changer’ for Quedam Shopping Centre

Western Gazette

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June 12, 2014 Benson Elliot signs second major letting in Barcelona, as early move into Spain continues to prove successful Henkel takes 6,400 sqm at Cornerstone office scheme, soon after landmark letting to ADP.

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has signed its second blue chip tenant at its 20,700 sqm (222,800 sq ft) Cornerstone office development in Barcelona, Spain.

Henkel, the German manufacturer of household products including Sellotape, Persil and Pritt adhesives, has agreed a 10 year lease on 6,423 sqm (69,137 sq ft) of space for its new Spanish HQ. Henkel will occupy the ground to fifth floors of Building C from the beginning of 2015.

In March 2014 Benson Elliot announced that it had agreed the largest letting in Barcelona for more than a year when ADP, a global leader in outsourced services and human resources, took nearly 6,800 sqm (73,200 sq ft) of space in Building B. The new letting to Henkel brings occupancy at the building to 64 per cent, only 6 months after completion.

Benson Elliot was one of the few investors willing to make a significant commitment to the Spanish real estate sector in 2011, when the firm agreed to forward purchase the Cornerstone office development from Solvia, a Banco Sabadell subsidiary, in joint venture with Barcelona-based Bream Real Estate. In an increasingly undersupplied Barcelona office market, Cornerstone is the only major new project with Grade A space ready for occupation in 2014.

Cornerstone was conceived with occupiers in mind; its three buildings, set in a 2,100 sqm communal plaza, offer efficient, open-plan floor plates in the heart of Barcelona’s modern business district of Poblenou. Cornerstone was awarded Barcelona’s first ever LEED Gold certificate for an office building, with sustainable features including locally sourced materials, free electric vehicle charging and DALI intelligent lighting controls.

Trish Barrigan, Senior Partner at Benson Elliot, commented: “The letting to Henkel underpins our decision to move into the Spanish market at a time when others feared to tread. Henkel is a major international business, with a strong covenant, and we’re pleased to welcome them to Cornerstone. Occupier interest continues to be strong, and we anticipate making further letting announcements in the near future.”

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June 9, 2014 Benson Elliot strengthens partnership with two senior promotions Appointments recognise significant contributions to UK firm’s strong growth.

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has announced the promotion of Ken MacNaughton, CFO, and Philipp Braschel, Principal for Germany, to Partner. These partnership appointments strengthen the firm’s experienced senior management team, currently comprised of Marc Mogull, Trish Barrigan, Joseph De Leo and Phil Irons.

Ken has over 14 years of experience as a Chief Financial Officer and joined Benson Elliot in 2009 after working for Cambridge Place Investment Management and Security Capital European Realty. Ken has developed a prominent role in the industry as it navigates an increasingly complex financial and regulatory environment. At Benson Elliot Ken oversees the Finance and Legal teams, and also serves as the firm’s Compliance Officer. He is responsible for financial reporting, tax, fund level financing and fund structuring, and plays an integral role in the investments made by the Benson Elliot funds.

Philipp joined Benson Elliot in 2009 from Goldman Sachs’ Real Estate Principal Investment Group where he was an Executive Director. Philipp has 14 years of industry experience and, over the course of his career, has been involved in the acquisition of c. €4.5 billion of property assets. Philipp directs Benson Elliot’s investment activities in Germany, a market in which the firm has been particularly active during the past few years. Recent activity in Germany includes the sale of the Silvertower Berlin residential portfolio, which achieved a 2.1x equity multiple in less than three years, and the purchase of the Turmcenter, a 23-storey office tower in Frankfurt’s central business district. Benson Elliot plans to comprehensively redevelop the tower to tap into the growing demand for high quality office space in central Frankfurt.

Marc Mogull, Managing Partner, Benson Elliot, said:
“Ken and Philipp have made significant contributions to the success of Benson Elliot’s business, and I welcome both of them to the partnership. Their promotions demonstrate their long-term commitment to the firm, and their expertise will be invaluable as we seek to maximise returns for our investors and grow the Benson Elliot platform.”

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June 9, 2014 Benson Elliot completes £36 million Cambridge sale Three Grade A office buildings at Cambourne Business Park sold to Coal Pension Properties

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has sold Cambourne Business Park (Phase 2000), near Cambridge, to Coal Pensions Properties Limited. The sale comes less than one year after Benson Elliot purchased the property from Aviva Investors as part of the firm’s £1 billion “Reach for the Regions”.

Benson Elliot completed a refurbishment programme of the three multi-let, high specification office buildings, which provide 130,000 square feet of accommodation and 549 car parking spaces in an attractive 7.6 acre landscaped park. The refurbishment programme included the upgrade of the common areas and the rebranding of the buildings to ‘The Twenties at Cambourne Business Park’.

Marc Mogull, founder and Managing Partner of Benson Elliot, said:
“We anticipated a significant upswing in demand for high quality regional assets in the UK, hence our early entry into markets such as Birmingham, Cambridge, Ealing, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Reading. The sale of Cambourne Business Park validates that thesis, and will deliver a strong return to our investors.”

Coal Pension Properties Limited were advised by LaSalle Investment Management and JLL.

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May 23, 2014 Quedam plans ‘could put buoyancy and buzz back into Yeovil’

Western Gazette

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May 14, 2014 Quedam owner to bring new fashion retailer to Yeovil Benson Elliot, the owner of the Quedam Shopping Centre, has submitted a planning application to South Somerset District Council which, if approved, will reconfigure retail units on Vicarage Walk to create a large, bespoke store suitable for a national fashion retailer.

The plans for Vicarage Walk will see the long vacant Mothercare and former Internacionale shops redesigned to form one large unit.  Benson Elliot and its award-winning architects, Allies and Morrison, have worked closely with the Council to prepare sensitive, high-quality designs that are both fresh and exciting while complementing the area’s historic surroundings.

The proposed 15,000 sq ft unit, around twice the size of New Look, will bring a new high street brand to the shopping centre, which currently includes Primark, BHS, Marks & Spencer, River Island, Monsoon, USC and Topshop.

Peter Cornforth, Director of Retail at Benson Elliot, said: 

“This investment is the first step in our commitment to improving the Quedam, by bringing fresh and fashionable vitality to Yeovil and giving south Somerset shoppers a great reason to visit the town centre.  We’ve designed the project to fit with the Council’s policies of supporting in-town retail development and see that as a vital part of attracting new investment and key retail brands to Yeovil. Town centres are the heart of our communities and we want this proposal to act as a catalyst for further improvements.”

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May 7, 2014 Double letting success for Benson Elliot at Ealing Cross Benson Elliot and asset manager XLB Property have secured a double letting success at the 135,000 sq ft Ealing Cross office building in Ealing, west London.

Employee Advisory Resource Ltd, relocating from Chiswick Park, has signed 8,270 sq ft of space on the ground floor, while US cloud telecoms company Ring Central has taken 8,325 sq ft on the second floor. Both leases have 10 year terms.

With a further 12,000 sq ft under offer, the letting of which would leave only part of the fifth floor available. The quoting rent for that remaining 9,375 sq ft of space is £37.50 per sq ft.

Other occupiers include dunnhumby, RedBee Media, A2 Dominion and Toluna.

James Jakeman of Benson Elliot said:

“Ealing Cross is witnessing a strong pull from occupiers that are attracted by its high quality, Ealing’s improving retail offer and great transport connections including Crossrail in 2018.”

Hanover Green and JLL are advising Benson Elliot and XLB Property. CBRE represented Employee Advisory Resource while Ring Central was advised by Morgan Pryce.

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May 1, 2014 Benson Elliot enters Italy with bargain deal

Deal News, Property EU

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April 25, 2014 Mancunian personality shines through

Regional Confidence, Property Week

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April 3, 2014 Benson Elliot moves into Italy with investments in Rome and Udine Twin transactions reunite Benson Elliot Managing Partner Marc Mogull and Europa Risorse Managing Director Antonio Napoleone

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has acquired Via Aurelia 278 in Rome and Terminal Nord in Udine (northern Italy) through the acquisition of 100% of the units in funds managed by Europa Risorse SGR (the SGR), a Bank of Italy regulated Italian real estate fund manager.  Via Aurelia is a 62-unit luxury residential development in the centre of Rome; Terminal Nord is a locally dominant retail centre in the north of Udine.

Benson Elliot’s investment reflects the firm’s confidence that Italy has turned the corner and is on the way to recovery, and its intention to be an early and significant mover in the country’s property markets.  It follows Benson Elliot’s decision in 2011 to be an early entrant into the recovering Spanish market, with the firm’s Cornerstone project in Barcelona.  There, Benson Elliot announced last month that it had concluded Barcelona’s largest letting in more than a year, to ADP, a global leader in outsourced services and human resources management.

Marc Mogull, Managing Partner of Benson Elliot, commented:

“It’s time.  The Eurozone crisis has receded, and we’ve seen Italian sovereign spreads fall 500 bps in just a couple of years.  It’s inevitable that this shift in investor sentiment, combined with an improving economy, debt markets that are slowly healing and the expectation of political change will drive a recovery in property markets.  Investing in Italy has presented challenges for many foreign property investors, but that’s often boiled down to weak local market understanding and poor execution.  We believe our long-term involvement in Italy, and our successful long-term relationship with Europa Risorse, mitigates many of those risks.”

Antonio Napoleone, Managing Director, Europa Risorse, added:

“I’m very pleased to again be working with Marc, and now with Benson Elliot.  We formed a great partnership in the last decade, managing a portfolio that ultimately grew to €800 million. During the past few years [Benson Elliot Senior Partner] Joseph De Leo and [Benson Elliot Italian Principal and country head] Leopoldo Andreis de Gregorio have been fully engaged in the Italian market, working hand-in-glove with us to watch the market and evaluate opportunities, and positioning Benson Elliot to act decisively when the right opportunity came along.  We are looking forward to working with them, and with the whole Benson Elliot team, as we move these two exciting transactions forward.”

Joseph DeLeo, Senior Partner of Benson Elliot, concluded:

“These two deals offer significant opportunity at this point in the cycle; Rome is an international city, with strong demand for residential property, particularly at the upper end of the market.  Romans understand quality, and the Via Aurelia development will offer a unique product in a unique location. Terminal Nord is a modern and successful retail asset in a thriving city, which we’ve been able to acquire at an attractive price.  It offers the kind of long-term value characteristics we like. Working with the experienced and trusted team at Europa Risorse I’m confident that both of these opportunities will deliver strong returns.”

Via Aurelia 278, Rome

The SGR has acquired the Via Aurelia residential development scheme comprising two buildings on a 10,000 sqm hill-top site in the attractive Aurelia area in the west of Rome.  With all building permits in place, the Property represents an attractive opportunity to deliver a luxury, c.€100 million end-value project in Italy’s largest residential market. The Property was acquired from a private Roman family, who previously used the existing buildings, currently vacant, as a private hospital.

The Aurelia area is an established residential neighbourhood situated 700 metres from the Vatican, offering good transport links via the metro system and road network. The site benefits from a central location and impressive views across Rome, including the nearby Vatican and St Peter’s Church, and the Castelli Romani hills to the south of the city.

The business plan involves demolishing the existing buildings and developing between 62 and 78 large luxury apartments across four new buildings, in a gated community, with direct access to an underground car park (107 spaces), a gym and spa, terraces, communal gardens and 24-hour security. The development is expected to take 2 years to complete, with construction starting in Q3 2014.

Terminal Nord Retail Park, Udine

In its second transaction, the SGR has acquired the Terminal Nord Retail Park in the northern Italian city of Udine from Pillar Retail Europark Fund, a closed-end retail fund advised and majority owned by British Land.  Pillar acquired the property in 2008 for a reported price of c.€100 m.

Opened in 2008, Terminal Nord is a modern retail park prominently located in Udine’s prime out-of-town shopping location. The 32,340 sqm Park provides 38 single-level units together with a 2,100 space car park and a detached food court. It is currently 95% occupied, and is anchored by a 9,600 sqm Carrefour hypermarket. Other significant tenants include Decathlon, Globo, Euronics and OVS.

Europa Risorse SGR has identified a number of value accretive asset management initiatives to  maximise the Park’s income. These include letting up currently vacant space, extending leases with existing tenants, reconfiguring and improving some of the retail units and public areas, and introducing additional retail pods.

 

About Europa Risorse

Europa Risorse (ER) is an Italian real estate platform that specialises in portfolio management and advisory services for the property industry.  It was founded in 2001 by Benson Elliot’s Managing Partner Marc Mogull (then head of Doughty Hanson Real Estate), and current Managing Director of Europa Risorse Antonio Napoleone (then head of BPD Property Development), with the intention of establishing a new approach to real estate investing in Italy.

ER’s ‘hands-on’ approach and strong local relationships has driven the firm’s credibility and success, from the first joint project in 2001:  the creation of a new headquarters in Milan for L’Oreal Italia. This saw the transformation of a 20,000 sqm industrial area into a 33,000 sqm,  architecturally significant home for L’Oreal in Italy.  The project was a milestone for the Italian real estate industry at the time, and was followed by ever larger projects in Milan, including Bodio Centre (67,000 sqm offices), Macciachini Centre (96,000 sqm offices and retail) and Orti Antichi (a 125-unit, high-end residential development).

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March 7, 2014 Benson Elliot Marks Opening of Barcelona Office Development with City’s Largest New Letting since 2012 First mover advantage pays dividends as city returns to growth.

Benson Elliot, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, has let 6,800 sqm (73,200 sq ft) in its newly-built Cornerstone office development in Poblenou, Barcelona, to ADP, a global leader in outsourced services and human resources management. The letting is the largest in Barcelona in more than a year, and represents a further sign that this Spanish city is turning the corner on the global financial crisis.

Cornerstone is located in the heart of Barcelona’s modern business district of 22@, close to the crossing of Poblenou’s two principal thoroughfares: Avenida Diagonal and Avenida Pere IV.
ADP has taken a seven year lease at Cornerstone, and will occupy floors 1 to 6 of the project’s Building B. The company’s intention is to consolidate 400 staff from various Barcelona-area offices into a new Diagonal-Parc Central headquarters.

Benson Elliot agreed to forward purchase the 20,700 sqm Cornerstone office development from Banco Sabadell subsidiary Solvia in 2011, in a joint venture with Bream Real Estate. At the time few were willing to make such a significant – and indeed speculative – commitment to Spain’s real estate sector. Three years later Cornerstone represents the only major new office project expected to deliver space for occupation in Barcelona in 2014, even as the city finds itself increasingly undersupplied in terms of new Grade A provision.

Trish Barrigan, Senior Partner at Benson Elliot, commented: “Benson Elliot acquired this asset with the recovery in mind, but not yet in view. We recognised the stand-out quality of the project – in a city that remains a magnet for international business – and could see the dearth of competitive supply in the pipeline. This letting to ADP, and the level of interest we are seeing from other potential occupiers, validates our early decision to move forward with the project. It is also satisfying to see renewed investment interest in Barcelona, and in Spain more broadly.”

Cornerstone is one of Barcelona’s most design-efficient developments, having been conceived with occupiers in mind. The buildings provide efficient, open-plan floor-plates set around a 2,100 sqm communal plaza. Locally sourced materials, showers and changing rooms for staff, free electric vehicle charging and DALI intelligent lighting controls underpin the project’s commitment to sustainability. Recognising that commitment, the building was at completion awarded Barcelona’s first ever LEED Gold certificate for an office building.

International real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield who advised on the letting will be providing a full fit-out service for ADP and will oversee the ongoing property management for Cornerstone.

Information on Cornerstone Poblenou: www.cornerstonebcn.com

 

For Further Information:

About Bream

Bream Real Estate is a pan-European real estate asset manager and local partner network. The local Spanish team has been operating since 2004, and specializes in acquiring and managing value-add opportunities on behalf its capital partners, especially focusing on the office and residential markets nationwide. www.breamrealestate.com

About ADP

With revenue surpassing 7,300 million euros and more than 60 years of experience, ADP provides a service for approximately 600,000 clients in over 125 countries. One of the largest international outsourcing service providers (BPO) and human resource managers (HCM), ADP offers a wide range of integrated solutions for HR, payroll, talent management, tax and benefits administration, and helping customers to comply with legal and legislative changes. ADP also provides computer and IT solutions for car, lorry, motorcycle, ship, recreational and heavy goods vehicle dealers. In Spain they have offices in Barcelona and Madrid.

About Cushman & Wakefield

Cushman & Wakefield is the largest international private equity real estate consultant. The company advises and represents their clients throughout the entire occupancy and property investment process, and has achieved a prominent position in the key international markets. Proof of this is in its frequent involvement in many of the important operations regarding property rental, sales and project management.

Founded in 1917, with headquarters in the United States, Cushman & Wakefield has around 250 offices in 60 countries, and a workforce of more than 16,000 professionals. It offers a wide range of services for all types of properties, including rentals, sales and acquisitions, equity, debt and structured finance, corporate financing and investment banking, corporate services, property management, equipment management, project management, consulting and evaluation. The company controls projects throughout the world valued at over 2.9 billion euros (4 billion dollars). Recognised as a leader in real estate research at a local and global level, the company publishes market data and research at: www.cushmanwakefield.com/knowledge.

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January 30, 2014 Benson Elliot checks out of Côte d’Azur hotel investment Disposal follows successful programme to create a first class business and leisure destination in Sophia-Antipolis

Benson Elliot Capital Management, the UK-based private equity real estate fund manager, announces the sale of the Sophia Country Club (“SCC”), its 4-star hotel in the South of France, to Eren Group, advised by Europrestim Management. Eren Group will take over the SCC hotel activity and will set up the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy with the assistance of Europrestim Management as project manager. The disposal has been made on behalf of Benson Elliot Real Estate Partners III (the “Fund”).

SCC is a popular business and leisure hotel in Sophia-Antipolis, in the French Riviera. Strategically situated less than fifteen minutes from Nice International Airport and the Cannes seafront, SCC is the hotel of choice in Sophia-Antipolis – France’s “Silicon Valley” – serving a multi-national business community of over 30,000.

Benson Elliot acquired SCC off-market in November 2011, following which it undertook a comprehensive six month programme to upgrade and enhance the hotel’s facilities, and generate new income streams from the leisure and sporting segments. The hotel was re-launched in June 2012 boasting 155 modern hotel rooms, 900 sqm of conference space, a high quality restaurant, and leisure and sports facilities. These include a state of the art spa centre and 20 ATP-standard tennis courts which have hosted top players such as Novak Djokovic, Justine Henin, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki.

Commenting on the disposal, Trish Barrigan, Senior Partner of Benson Elliot, said:

“The Sophia Country Club has been an outstanding investment for Benson Elliot. It exemplifies the kind of opportunity that appeals to us: an undermanaged asset where we can use our sector expertise and financing skills to create a dominant product with broad appeal. Despite the improvement in Europe’s investment markets, underlying performance remains polarised. As such, we continue to encounter situations where we can buy opportunistically, execute effectively, and create substantial value.”

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January 17, 2014 1-8 The Broadway, Ealing, London W5 sold to Pramerica for £37.4m Benson Elliot today announces the forward sale of 1-8 The Broadway, part of its Ealing (London) town centre portfolio, (the “Arcadia Portfolio”) to Pramerica Real Estate Investors, the European arm of the US real estate investment and advisory business of Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU). The sale price is £37.4 million.

1-8 The Broadway is in the midst of a transformational re-development, which will convert the old Arcadia Shopping Centre – a tired, poorly configured, 27-unit enclosed centre – into three contemporary stores fronting The Broadway. Major high street retailers have signed up to take the entirety of the c. 100,000 sq ft being delivered: Morrisons will open London’s first completely new, high quality ‘Fresh Market’ store in 47,000 sq ft at ground level; TK Maxx will more than double its presence in the centre to 43,000 sq ft; and McDonalds will relocate from its current unit to take a prominent, 9,000 sq ft corner store facing both The Broadway and High Street. Work on the project will be completed in the autumn of this year.

The 1-8 Broadway project marks the first phase of a comprehensive reworking of the 2.8 acre Arcadia Portfolio site. Benson Elliot initially acquired the Portfolio in December 2012, buying in 12-14 The Broadway to add to the estate in March 2013. The company’s total current investment in Ealing town centre, including the June 2013 acquisition of Ealing Cross, a prime office property situated 600 metres further west on Uxbridge Road, amounts to c. £90 million.

Phil Irons of Benson Elliot, said:

“Following a comprehensive re-development and repositioning of the asset, we are pleased to have forward sold 1-8 The Broadway to Pramerica. The sale reflects not only the quality of the asset and renewed investor and retailer confidence in Ealing, but also the recognition that Crossrail’s imminent arrival will be a game-changer for Ealing.     

“The disposal enables us to bring forward the second phase of the Arcadia Portfolio re-development; We’re looking forward to working hand-in-glove with Ealing Council on this next stage of the project, to design and deliver a scheme that will enhance further Ealing town centre.”  

Christopher Santer, Director, Portfolio Management at Pramerica said:

“1-8 The Broadway is a very high quality, liquid, retail property with excellent income characteristics, let to strong tenants on long, inflation linked leases. It is well located in the exciting London sub-market of Ealing, adjacent to the London Underground station, where it is well positioned to benefit from the impact of the planned Crossrail connection and the expected improvements in the local area, which have the potential to generate capital value growth. 

Pat Hayes from Ealing Council said:

“The sale of the remodelled Arcadia Centre is good news for the borough as it once again demonstrates that Ealing is a place where major blue chip international investors want to be and that Ealing town centre is a strong commercial prospect.

“It also gives Benson Elliot additional resources to tackle the more challenging second phase of the scheme, and we look forward to working with them on this project, Arcadia having gone so well.”

Design work on the rest of the portfolio has now started, with Benson Elliot starting consultation with local communities in early 2014. The plans, to be designed by Allies and Morrison, are expected to include a core of residential development surrounded by new retail space and quality public realm.  The arrival of the £18 billion Crossrail project from 2018 will further improve the area’s accessibility, reducing commuting times to central London by up to 50% and enhancing Ealing’s popularity as a place to live, work and socialise.

Strutt & Parker and GCW advised Benson Elliot on the sale and Lunson Mitchenall acted for Pramerica.

ENDS

About Pramerica

Pramerica Real Estate Investors is a leader in the global real estate investment management business, offering a broad range of investment vehicles that invest in private and public market opportunities in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and Latin America. Headquartered in Madison, N.J., the company also has offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Frankfurt, Lisbon, London, Luxembourg, Munich, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo. In addition, the company has representatives in Milan. Pramerica Real Estate Investors had gross assets under management of USD $51 billion ($38.7 billion net), as of June 30, 2013. For more information, visit http://www.pramericarei.com.

Pramerica Financial is a trade name used by Prudential Financial, Inc., a company incorporated and with its principal place of business in the United States, and its affiliates in select countries outside the United States. PFI (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with more than $1 trillion of assets under management as of September 30, 2013, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. PFI’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., the company’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century.  For more information, please visit http://www.news.prudential.com/ .  PFI of the United States is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential plc, a company incorporated in the United Kingdom.

About the three tenants for 1-8 The Broadway

Morrisons is a new retailer to 1-8 The Broadway and will occupy a 47,000 gross sq ft ‘Fresh Format’ store.  The Fresh Format store is a new ‘best in class’ format, which will deliver a wide range of fresh produce at great Morrisons value.

TK Maxx already trades on the upper level of the Arcadia Shopping Centre and will expand across the rest of the floor, doubling in size to 43,000 gross sq ft.  The store will gain a new Broadway entrance including escalators and lifts.  It will continue trading throughout the building works and will also re-open its Spring Bridge Road entrance.

McDonalds will move across from its current store to take The Broadway corner unit, formerly occupied by HMV.  The new store will be 9,000 gross sq ft.  It will also continue trading throughout the building works.

About the Arcadia Portfolio 

The properties were assembled between 2006 and 2008 by Glenkerrin, an Irish developer. They planned to develop a c.1,000,000 sq ft mixed retail and residential scheme; while the Glenkerrin proposals for regeneration gained the backing of LB Ealing, at a subsequent Public Inquiry the proposed scale and height were considered not to be in keeping with the adjoining Conservation Areas. In 2011, Glenkerrin was declared insolvent, resulting in all company assets being transferred to the National Asset Management Agency (“NAMA”).

On 29 October 2012, Benson Elliot exchanged contracts with Malcolm Shierson and Martin Ellis of Grant Thornton acting as Joint Administrator of Glenkerrin (UK) Limited and Joint LPA receiver over the assets of The Broadway Partnership for the acquisition of the Arcadia Portfolio, the major part of a 2.8-acre island-block in Ealing town centre, West London.  Benson Elliot completed the deal on 7 December 2012.

In March 2013 Benson Elliot acquired 12-14 The Broadway from Legal & General and has now let the store to fast-expanding boutique coffee shop Harris + Hoole.

In June 2013 Benson Elliot received a resolution to grant consent from LB Ealing for the internal and external changes to the Arcadia Shopping Centre.

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