Fund aimed at filling the gap in property investment left by retreat of banks

One of Europe’s largest insurers has set up a €2.5bn fund aimed at investing in the development of offices and shopping centres in the UK and across the continent.

The move by French insurer Axa is aimed at filling the gap in property investment left by the retreat of banks and other lenders from the market since the economic downturn.

The real estate arm of Axa raised €585.5m of equity, largely from pension and insurance funds, with the total to be bolstered to €2.5bn through debt and reinvestment proceeds from Axa’s existing projects.

Laurent Vouin, AXA Real Estate head of opportunistic funds, said the group would either work alone of in partnership with other investors to secure development opportunities, particularly in the UK, France and Germany.

He said the fund has already invested in Sixty London, an office block on the Holborn Viaduct in the City of London and three projects in Paris.

“We are already beginning to see a strong pipeline of potential investments…ranging from land or speculative developments through to refurbishments,” he said.

The move comes after a Lloyds Banking Group survey last week found that confidence in the London property market had fallen to its lowest rate in two years.