Government-led €880m deal to recast Brussels’ EU quarter

In a deal said to herald the creation of “the most sustainable offices for the European institutions”, anchoring them in Brussels for the coming decades, Belgian government-owned investment company SFPIM is acquiring a portfolio of 23 office buildings from the European Commission.

[Image: G.Perigois/Unsplash.]

The 300,000 sq m portfolio includes 21 buildings in the city’s European district, that alone have a price tag of €880 million and which Belgian fund Cityforward, managed by Brussels- and Antwerp-based property firm Whitewood, is acquiring on 99-year leases to develop them. These will provide 70% best-in-class sustainable offices and 30% residential, along with public facilities. When completed in 2028 the additional residential space will double the number of families living in the European district.

Two other buildings sold to SFPIM by the European Commission are not within the European district so are not included in Cityforward, a fund was established by SFPIM and Brussels-based insurer Ethias.

Funds for the acquisition were raised through a combination of equity provided by a consortium of institutional investors and senior debt financing provided by six lenders. ING acted as sole coordinating bank and bookrunning mandated lead arranger, in close cooperation with Cushman & Wakefield Debt & Structured Finance (ED&SF). Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, Helaba and KBC were lead arrangers.

Cushman & Wakefield ED&SF advised Cityforward on the financing, while Linklaters and Clifford Chance acted as legal counsel to Cityforward. Allen & Overy acted as legal counsel to the lender group.