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Aberdeen buys AXA Real Estate fund stake

Aberdeen has acquired roughly half of Storebrand's interest in AXA Real Estate's European Alternative Property Income Venture Fund, which invested in Accor's Ibis hotels.

Aberdeen Asset Management has acquired 49.19 percent of The Storebrand Group’s stake in AXA Real Estate’s European Alternative Property Income Venture fund (APIV), according to a UK regulatory notice.

Storebrand, which was unavailable to comment, is a Norwegian asset management, insurance and pension firm.

APIV manages about €710 million in alternative assets as of June 2014, according to AXA’s website. The fund attracted €400 million in equity when it launched in 2007, according to Secondaries Investor’s sister publication PERE. Other limited partners in the fund include AP Fonden 3, the third Swedish National Pension Fund.

The fund’s initial strategy was to “put in a little leverage and hope the capital markets came through”, AXA’s former head of alternative real estate Dan Bowden previously told PERE. Despite the subsequent credit market crisis, the fund was still generating distributions of 5 percent per year, from 2010 to 2013. Bowden left AXA last month, according to his LinkedIn profile. The firm was unavailable to comment.

APIV managed to invest in more than 101 alternative assets in eight countries, according to its website. The fund targets investments in the healthcare, leisure, automotive, educational and specialist (such as self storage and government) real estate sectors.

In 2008, APIV bought 57 Accor hotels in France and Switzerland and a portfolio of Marseille clinics, according to PERE. In June 2014 AXA announced that it had sold 11 of the hotels, seven of which are part of the Ibis brand, back to Accor for CHF 219 million (€180 million; $241 million).

In 2010, the fund bought two Swedish properties let on long-term leases to the Kalmar County Police and Swedish Prosecution Authority, as well as Sweden’s Växjö Concert Hall and a hotel building, according to an AXA statement. All four of the assets were sold in 2013 for a total of €65.8 million, which generated a net equity multiple of 1.5x for AXA.

Aberdeen purchased the portion of Storebrand’s stake using its European Secondaries Property Fund of Funds, which closed on €300 million last year, according to PEI’s Research and Analytics division. The firm was unavailable to comment at press time.