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Italian property group eyes prestige London buildings

It’s often more been common for British property hunters to descend on Italy in search of bargains.

But Sorgente, the Italian real estate conglomerate, is turning the tables as it eyes a string of “trophy” purchases in London.

It already has in its portfolio Rome’s Piazza Colonna, left, and New York’s Flatiron building, below right, and in June shelled out £167million to add the Queensbury House in Mayfair, central London, to the list.

Now the group – which manages US and European property investments for Italian institutional investors – is in negotiations with other institutional investors about raising capital for a £400million fund to buy additional trophy assets in the UK capital.

Its UK Historic and Trophy Buildings

Fund will make up around 25 per cent of the £1.6 billion the company plans to set aside to purchase historically or architecturally significant properties across Europe and in the US.

Sorgente’s principal targets in London are landmark addresses in the capital’s prime Mayfair, West End and City districts.

But it is prepared to widen the net further and consider more modern commercial and office properties that have a global recognition factor.

Research commissioned by the group has demonstrated that over the past quarter of a century, such high-value properties in New York, Paris, Milan and Rome – ones that stand out for their architectural appeal, history, prestige location or iconic status – outperformed the rest of the real estate sector regardless of conditions in the wider market.

Sorgente director-general Stefano Cervone argued that such properties boasted a more impressive risk-return profile because they are unique, maintain their intrinsic value better and appeal to investors the world over.

“They are much more liquid as assets than a lot of others on the market as they attract a global investor and will always command a premium to other top-grade property,” he said.

“Tenants also want to stay in them as they develop an attachment to the building and want their company to remain linked with it.”

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