After reaching 60 billion euros of assets under management last year, Allianz Real Estate is approaching 2019 with cautious optimism, as Alexander Gebauer, CEO for Western Europe, explains.
Leaders League. How do you view 2019 with regards to the European real estate market?
Alexander Gebauer. I am both optimistic and cautious. As Allianz Real Estate is a long-term investor, we are focused on the early detection of significant changes within the real estate market. The arrival of new players, the launch of new products or the transformations of traditional sectors speaks to the changing needs of users. This new order creates many opportunities for real estate investors.
In parallel, phenomena such as the ‘yellow shirt’ protest movement have less importance in our analysis grid because they are temporary. However, they can be caused by fundamental problems that would ultimately impact our market, hence our vigilance.
According to you, what will be the growth markets in the coming months?
We analyse markets by city and not country. Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, Barcelona… are attractive from every point of view and will become even more so in the future because Millennials from all over the world will want live and work there, and serious transformations are being undertaken. Paris’ visage will radically change with the development of Greater Paris and the organization of the Olympic Games in 2024, which will bring major urban transformation. At Allianz Real Estate, we try to identify as early as possible areas on the up, which partly explains our in-depth neighbourhood by neighbourhood analysis of major European cities.
What are Allianz Real Estate’s main investment strategies given current conditions?
We are working on our existing pool of assets to create value. Knowing that innovation and digitalization are causing upheaval in the real estate industry, we have launched a strategy to bring our buildings up to the latest standards. For example 16-18 Avenue George V in Paris’ eighth district is one of the first properties to benefit from this overhaul.
We wanted to restructure this property in a way that preserves its cachet while making it modern and efficient so as to meet the expectations of its user, Givenchy. To give you an example, we have partnered with Bright in France. This startup has imagined and developed an easily understandable digital creation in the form of a landscape that evolves according to the energy consumption data of a place. This creation was deployed in the halls of a dozen buildings in France. Finally, in addition to innovation and sustainable development, we are also working on the quality of life at work aspect of our assets, including reflecting on space planning.
Student housing will remain an important investment target for Allianz Real Estate in Germany, Spain and France. As for offices, we manage 18 billion euros of assets of this type in Europe, and could increase our portfolio in 2019, if interesting opportunities are identified.