Deutsche Bank Sells Headquarters for $835 Million
March 16, 2011 - Hesse
By Laura Stevens from The Wall Street Journal Asia
Deutsche Bank AG said it would sell its Frankfurt headquarters, a pair of reflective glass towers that have dominated the city's skyline for a quarter-century, in a deal worth roughly €600 million, or about $835 million.
Deutsche Bank is selling the buildings, nicknamed Soll und Haben, or debit and credit, to the mutual-fund manager DWS Investments, an arm of the bank's asset-management division.
The details of the purchase by one of its closed-end real-estate funds will be released in May, Deutsche Bank said.
The bank recently renovated the 246,000-square-foot buildings, and the sale is seen as a way to cover those costs, rather than as an attempt to raise capital.
Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the terms of its new lease. The buildings were owned by a closed-end fund from 1984 until 2007, when Deutsche Bank bought them in order to undertake the renovation.
Opened in 1985, the 38- and 40-story skyscrapers have become the most recognizable symbol of the bank in its home country and beyond.
"The Deutsche Bank towers underline the role of Frankfurt as the most important financial city in the euro zone. It is the iconic financial building," said Michael Meissner, a partner at law firm Dechert LLP, which does work in the German real-estate sector.
Deutsche Bank's construction costs during the renovation have been estimated at about €200 million, and the bank paid about €271 million for the property in 2007. The value of the land and other investments bring the building to its current market value.
Frankfurt's 42-floor Opera Tower, with Swiss bank UBS AG as its largest tenant, was sold last year to investors for about €550 million, and Berlin's Sony Center, in what was once no-man's land between East and West Berlin, was sold for about €750 million to a South Korean pension fund.
"There's high demand in Germany for these kinds of assets," said Kai Klose, a real-estate equity researcher with Berenberg Bank.
In 2010, the investment market for commercial real estate in Germany reached €19 billion. Investors like them because they offer a hedge against inflation with long-term stable returns, he said.
Other banks have sold their headquarters to investment firms, but not typically to one of their subsidiaries.
HSBC Holdings PLC sold its New York headquarters to an Israeli investment holding company in 2010 for $330 million, its Paris headquarters to French Properties Management for €400 million in 2010, and its London headquarters to a South Korean pension fund for £772.5 million in 2009.
This article has been republished from Wall Street Journal
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