AEW is one of the world’s largest real estate asset managers with $90.7/€83.1bn of assets under management as at 30 June 2023. AEW has over 890 employees, with its main offices located in Boston, London, Paris and Singapore and offers a wide range of real estate investment products including comingled funds, separate accounts and securities mandates across the full spectrum of investment strategies. AEW represents the real estate asset management platform of Natixis Investment Managers, one of the largest asset managers in the world.
AEW is one of the leading European real estate investment managers with €38.4bn of real estate assets under management in Europe as at 30 June 2023. With over 450 employees operating from 12 locations throughout Europe, AEW has a long track record of successfully implementing core, value-add and opportunistic investment strategies on behalf of its clients. In the last five years, AEW has invested and divested a total volume of over €22bn of real estate across European markets.
For more information on AEW, visit www.aew.com
Strategic corporate development
Over the next three to five years, AEW is expecting to grow the European business by launching new funds and continuing to invest on behalf of new and existing separate account mandates. In particular, the firm is expecting to raise further capital for the following funds*:
- EUROCORE: an open ended, pan-European core fund targeting a diversified portfolio of institutional quality assets in major European markets. The fund is targeting a €2bn equity commitment over time;
- UK VALUE-ADD III: UK-focused manage-to-green strategy acquiring non-Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards compliant assets for refurbishment. A continuation of AEW’s successful track record in the UK value add space;
- SELF IV: a pan-European core real estate debt fund targeting senior loan investments. The fund series has raised €1.2bn to date;
- UK Core Plus Property Fund: an open-ended core plus fund investing in a diversified portfolio of assets in the UK;
- RESIDYS II: a France-focused core strategy investing in residential assets with a stable and resilient income return.
In addition to the above funds the firm is expecting to launch a number of programmatic ventures investing in value strategies in the logistics and alternative investment sectors.
* Retail and non-sophisticated investors are not eligible to invest in these funds.
Post COVID lockdowns, consumer spending habits reverted to normal as high streets re-opened. Coupled with an increase in the cost of living, consumer spending has been challenged, pushing back demand for logistics space down to more sustainable levels. However, e-commerce continues to be the main driver of European logistics space demand. The share of online sales across Europe is still projected to reach 27% by 2032 year-end. With increasing geopolitical uncertainties, re- and near-shoring has stepped up as a driver for manufacturing, transportation and storage, and shipping activity. This has continued to provide a positive momentum for industrial and warehousing assets. Post-COVID, urban densification has become an even stronger demand driver for last-mile logistics and urban distribution centers. In the shift from global just-in-time to more regional just-in-case supply chains, European logistics space remains in demand. Retailers seek to be closer to consumers, thus reducing transportation times and costs. The sustained increase in borrowing costs has hurt developers’ profitability on top of rising construction and land costs. Despite near-record low vacancy levels this could limit new supply, in turn providing a tailwind for solid rental growth for the existing stock.
A structural shift spurred on by the pandemic has taken place across the European office market. Most occupiers are now implementing hybrid working models, as the benefits of working from home and collaborating in the office are being balanced following the extended lockdown periods of fully remote working. With lockdowns being lifted and the euro-zone labour market showing signs of tightness, unemployment levels have remained low in 2023. Vacancy rates crept up during the COVID-impacted 2020-22 period as tenants reduced their long-term lease commitments. Some pent-up activity has been released post-COVID and leasing activity did return to more normal levels in late 2022 but is now slowing in 2023. Prime office rent resilience remains for high quality and energy efficient buildings. The increase of flexible working is also driving a flight to quality to attract workers back in, combined with a step-up in ESG commitments. With new local EPC regulations becoming effective, landlords might need to step up their energy intensity-reducing capex budgets to ensure compliance. New developments previously delayed by COVID have led to a higher and more concentrated supply in 2023. However, with sustained higher borrowing costs and tighter ESG requirements, new developments will become less profitable. This limited new supply will put a cap on vacancy rates, depending on the dynamics for individual European office markets.
The multi-family sector has remained resilient during the pandemic, with limited negative impact on prices and a recovery in rents. The supply-demand imbalance remains prevalent across many European markets as a consequence of a lag in permits, increasing construction costs and land prices. As a result of the latter two, many approved building permits may not even translate into new residential developments. Again, developers’ profitability was already under pressure, but will be hurt by increased financing costs. New supply is unlikely to return to pre-Global Financial Crisis levels in the current environment. Rents have increased post-lockdowns and, in many cases, cannot increase further as tenants’ purchasing power might prove insufficient. Rental regulations and caps have been implemented in some countries in the recent high inflation period to protect tenants. Despite new EPC rules, these rent controls are unlikely to incentivise landlords to implement energy-efficiency capex. Overall, prime residential yields have widened as bond yields, borrowing costs and yields in other property sectors have widened in the second half of 2022 and first half of 2023. Limited new supply, long-term shortage of available units and strong stability in cash flows should protect residential yields against significant further widening.
The lifting of lockdowns across Europe has confirmed a return to more ‘normalised’, post-lockdown shopping habits. This has led to footfall traffic at high street and shopping centre locations exceeding pre-pandemic levels. The volume of annual in-store sales is projected to recover and return to 95% of 2019 levels by 2026. Despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, increases in mortgage costs and the fall in real disposable household incomes, discretionary consumer spending has come under pressure in the first half of 2023. The retail sector is highly sensitive to GDP growth. Based on our modest GDP growth outlook, we project limited rental growth in most of the European retail markets, especially as there is still some over-supply in some segments. Redevelopment and repurposing of existing retail shops and shopping centres have gained traction to meet the changing demand. However, given the ongoing restructuring of the retail industry and the many challenges it faces, most investors have adjusted their valuations downwards. This faster re-pricing to higher yields compared to other sectors means our current outlook for retail assets going forward has improved.
Investment principles & strategy
Since its creation in 1981, AEW has been dedicated to creating and implementing real estate investment and asset management strategies for institutional and retail investors. AEW offers investors a wide range of investment solutions across Europe, including separate accounts and commingled funds across core to opportunistic strategies.
AEW measures its performance against a number of benchmarks specific to investment strategy and style. The results of each portfolio are periodically audited by independent third parties and audited financial statements provided to clients.
Total AUM includes the assets and businesses managed by AEW Europe SA and its subsidiaries and AEW Capital Management. Information relates to AEW as at 30 June 2023. The address provided is that of AEW SA and is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority / AMF (French securities regulator). The content offered is for information purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation nor is it an invitation or inducement to engage in investment activity. The information and opinions presented have been prepared internally and/ or obtained from sources which AEW believes to be reliable, however AEW does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of such information. Opinions expressed reflect prevailing market conditions at the time this material was completed and are subject to change. Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks and expenses of any strategy or product carefully before investing.