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Belvedere Capital Founders Interviewed By BusinessImmo

Business Immo: A word of presentation first of all about Belvedere Capital...

Bruno Cohen and Silvio Estienne: Belvedere Capital was launched in 2018, positioning itself from the outset as an investor and asset manager covering the entire real estate value chain on behalf of third parties. Our interventions range from sourcing to asset disposals, including all stages of due diligence, expertise, asset management, financing and even structuring of an investment vehicle. Our clients are mainly international institutional investors, from sovereign wealth funds to private equity fund managers. We operate throughout the French market with the value proposition of using our 50 years of cumulative experience and our in-depth knowledge of the markets acquired through our various past responsibilities, notably with major asset managers. Our specificity is to offer our clients a “hand-stitched” approach, to ensure total independence in the conduct of investment strategies, as well as an entrepreneurial approach. We can co-invest with our clients in order to align our interests.

BI: Which asset classes do you focus on? BC and SE: Our current focus is on offices and logistics. We signed our first two office transactions for Credit Suisse, the first being the acquisition of Le Lavoisier, a 9,400 sqm complex located in the business district of La Défense. For the same client, we signed the acquisition of the Inspira building in Issy-les-Moulineaux, 11,250 sqm of fully leased office space. Logistics has also been a strategic area of development for Belvedere Capital from the outset. After analysing numerous opportunities, we signed a sale & leaseback agreement on behalf of Credit Suisse for a 28,000 sqm platform in the Lyon region. The transaction, initiated before the outbreak of the Covid-19 crisis, was finalised this summer. More generally, logistics is going to be one of our priority areas of development in the coming years. The onset of the health crisis has only strengthened our conviction. We are working by favouring off-market operations in a competitive market, positioning ourselves on all formats contributing to the supply chain infrastructure in France, from large logistics warehouses to so-called last mile assets. We look at individual assets as well as portfolios and we can position ourselves on Vefa, even in white if the location justifies it. The market remains buoyant, with demand as strong as ever despite the crisis and a generally low supply.

BI: What is your risk profile in the current economic climate? BC and SE: Today, we are maintaining the prism of our investment strategies on core+ and value-added assets, which are better able to create value over time, by playing on all levers, thus enabling us to build resilient investments over time.

BI: What will be your roadmap for 2021? BC and SE: We want to accelerate our development after a first financial year (2018-2019) in which we made transactions for around €300m and a year 2020 disrupted by periods of lockdown. To do this, we have consolidated our existing platform by strengthening our skills with the establishment of a technical department, in partnership with Richard Léger, which will enable us to position ourselves on office restructuring operations in Paris and the inner suburbs. We have formed another partnership with Dominique Dudan in the hotel and operational real estate sector to analyse investment opportunities in these sectors, even though the period is clearly complicated for the hotel industry. We wish to position ourselves once again on the residential sector, particularly sought after by institutional investors today, looking at the French and German markets. Finally, we are going to strengthen our position in asset management and structure a dedicated division that could, in the long term, be offered as an autonomous service for third parties.

BI: What are Belvedere Capital's long-term objectives? BC and SE: More than ever, we must remain agile in this period of uncertainty. We do not set targets for assets under management. Our aim is to build solid, long-term relationships based on mutual trust with our clients by reaffirming our values of ethics, transparency and responsibility. To this end, one of our rules is to limit the number of our clients by asset typology/risk profile in order to offer them the best service and avoid any risk of conflict of interest.

BI: Aren't you worried about the crisis period? BC and SE: Crises are in fact reversals of trends, more or less strong depending on the triggering factors, and inherent to real estate markets which are by nature cyclical. Our experience has shown us that each phase of the cycle generates opportunities. The period of crisis that we are entering will lead to a prioritisation of risk premiums in the sectors we follow, starting with the office for which we still have strong fundamental convictions about its future. All our work will be to anticipate market trends and changing user needs in order to build appropriate strategies for our clients.

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