New research reveals priorities for European pension funds in long income property investment

Hugo James, Partner and Head of Long Income, Alpha Real Capital – New Research

Hugo James, Partner and Head of Long Income, Alpha Real Capital – New Research

Last year Alpha Real Capital published research looking at investor appetite for long lease property and saw a significant expectation of growth from investors over the next two years; with more than 20% of investors expecting a marked increase in investments in long income property. Alpha have just followed this with a survey across different European countries to see what was important to investors in considering investments in this sector.

‘We did see some differences in how people looked at things; in particular Ireland, which had greater emphasis on distribution yield.’

ESG also figured highly in the research; ‘I think as with everything we look at, ESG is an increasingly important factor for investors’.

Alpha Real Capital manages just under £4 billion – the majority of it for pension funds – and is a specialist fund manager investing in real assets with a focus on secure income. The company invests significantly in long lease property, Hugo James, Partner and Head of Long Income, Alpha Real Capital told the Real Asset Day.


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Guest Blog: WiredScore’s guide to improving your internet when working from home

Last year, a WiredScore survey found that 85% of people experienced issues with their internet at home. As the world transitions to working from home, we wanted to share some handy tips on how to ensure you’re getting the best internet possible.

By William Newton, President and MD at WiredScore

So what can you do to improve your internet?

  1. Check your speed

Start by testing your connection speed on Fast.com or Speedtest by Ookla. This will tell you the download speed you are experiencing, and, if you click “Show more info” on Fast.com, you will also see your upload speed.

If your speed test gives you a number that is significantly different from what your Internet Service Provider (ISP) advertised, try moving closer to your router, or carry out the same test over a wired connection by connecting your laptop to your router with a network cable. If this does not improve your speed, get in touch with your ISP.

Ofcom in the UK have produced a useful guide to help people understand the approximate speeds required for different online activities.

2. Improve your Wi-Fi connection

If you’re getting a good speed when testing your internet over a wired connection, it is likely that it’s your Wi-Fi connection that is causing speed issues. This could be a result of wireless interference between you and your router or wireless access point.

So what can you do to fix this?
If you’ve been on the same package for a number of years, the chances are you can get a newer router with better speed and coverage. Call your Internet Service Provider and see if they can offer you a new router – a number of them will do this for free.

Consider physically moving your router/wireless access point closer to where you’re working. This Huffington Post article has some good tips on ensuring this is centrally located and not blocked by any walls or devices.

Your Internet Service Provider may also offer a troubleshooting guide on their website or mobile app. Some even offer tools such as “Wi-Fi Optimisers” to help fine-tune how well your network performs.  . 

Change your router settings – but be careful when doing it. There is a risk of bringing the whole network down and phone support can be hard to follow. But, if you do decide to explore this, access to your router settings can be gained by going to a web address (also known as a URL) that is printed on the back of the router itself. This URL may be a string of numbers, such as 192.168.10.1, and can be entered into your internet browser just like any other web address. There will also be a username and password printed on the back of the router..

When changing your router settings:

Pick the right network: Most routers have the ability to broadcast two wireless networks; 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Whilst the 2.4GHz network gives you better range, the 5GHz network provides higher speed, or bandwidth, at shorter distances and is less congested (this is because 2.4GHz is used by most networks including the microwave). Your router may already be broadcasting both and give you the option to choose one over the other. If it doesn’t, you should be able to use different names for the two networks by going into the basic settings of your router. This will help you recognise which network you are connected to, and prioritise the 5GHz network for your work devices (e.g. laptop and phone).

Select the right channel: The networks used by people around you often cause congestion and interference with your signal. You can download free software like Wi-Fi Analyzer for Windows to see all the networks nearby and what channel they use. If your network overlaps, consider switching to a less congested channel. You may be able to conduct this scan directly when logged into your router. Once you have identified the best option, select the appropriate channel within your router settings to ensure there are minimal overlapping networks.

Newer routers will allow you to prioritise devices. This may, for example, allow you to ensure that your laptop is prioritised for speed over other devices such as games consoles.

It’s also worth checking if there are any firmware or software updates available for your router – this will likely lead to performance and security enhancements.

3. Try alternatives 

If you are still experiencing Wi-Fi issues after taking the actions above, consider using a Powerline solution or installing a Wi-Fi mesh network.

Powerline: Powerline uses your home’s electrical circuit to transmit your internet signal between two points through the house. For example, you could install one adapter next to your router and another next to your working position, and the network will use the electrical circuit as if it was a physical network cable between the two adapters. Tech Radar has a list of the top 5 to help you decide.

Wi-Fi Mesh Network: Mesh networks use multiple wireless access points to transmit Wi-Fi signal to hard-to-reach places in your home. The multiple access points can be positioned around your home, and will connect to each other wirelessly to boost signal. A number of hardware manufacturers such as Google, Amplifi, Eero and Linksys have mesh Wi-Fi products, however check with your ISP first, as some offer them free of charge to customers. PCMag have published a list of their top 10 Wi-Fi mesh extenders.

4. Try mobile 

If you are experiencing issues with speed, you may find that your mobile provider offers you a better service in the interim.

Most modern smartphones give you the option to hotspot from them. This creates a portable Wi-Fi network which you can connect to. On the iPhone this can be found by going to Settings → Personal Hotspot.

Note: This will use up your mobile data package and additional charges may apply if you go over your allowance.

If you find that your mobile connection is the best way of accessing the internet, you may want to consider buying a dedicated mobile hotspot and contract from your mobile operator.

However if you have a stable broadband connection through your home internet, we would recommend that you don’t use your mobile hotspot as your main internet connection. This is because it can cause delay (latency) issues when using video conferencing software.

Should you have poor mobile signal, and trouble making and receiving calls, some smartphones and mobile networks will allow you to make calls over Wi-Fi. On an iPhone this can be enabled by going to Settings → Phone → Wi-Fi Calling. You can follow similar steps on Android devices.


5. Use Wi-Fi and mobile together

It’s possible to increase your bandwidth by using Wi-Fi and your mobile network concurrently. This also gives you a backup connection should there be issues with your broadband connection while working. Speedify is one redundancy service which can provide this.

 Download a PDF version of the guide here.

WiredScore is the digital connectivity rating scheme for real estate that empowers landlords to understand, improve, and promote their buildings’ digital infrastructure.

If you are interested in writing in sharing a guest Blog post with us, or to volunteer to take part in a one-on-one recorded video discussion with us, please do get in touch today at: james.wallace@realassetmedia.com

RAI Coronavirus Special Report: final call for contributions

Real Asset Media is preparing a Coronavirus (Covid-19) special report which will analyse the impacts of the pandemic across our sector. RAM will donate every second advertising Euro to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The special report will focus on 4 broad themes:

1) The macro context, which will analyse the respective reactions of world governments and central banks, with a focus on the US and the Federal Reserve, the European Union and the European Central Bank and the UK government and the Bank of England.

2) The impact on investment and leasing transactions, capital flows, asset allocation and performance.

3) An analysis of the most vulnerable sectors and consideration of what strategies are best placed to minimise disruption. The article considers sectors including retail, leisure and hospitality; logistics and industrial; Offices and coworking; residential including student accommodation.

4) impact on financing markets, the role of banks and other lenders throughout this new crisis, and the effectiveness of government measures designed to protect against a wave of administrations, insolvencies, and bankruptcies.

Deadline for editorial contributions to macro and capital flows/investment articles has passed. However, there is still time to editorially contribute the vulnerable sectors and restructuring/financing article. If you would like to send commentary, please email: james.wallace@realassetmedia.com

We are also open to a limited number of articles contributed by sectors professionals. We are flexible on topics, so please feel free to suggest ideas, here are a few ideas from us:

1) What is the future now for coworking? This is the first stress test for coworking. How do you expect things to the sector to perform across the UK and Europe?

2) Government stimulus and tax relief. Will the UK government’s Business Rates Relief be effective in preventing the closure of vulnerable firms? Will the new emergency insolvency laws protect company failures? What else could be done?

3) The view from the technology professionals: how can technology help us during this period of restricted movement? Is the technology infrastructure of your business sufficient to operate remotely for a protracted period? Will this crisis prompt an internal technology strategy review? What more can proptech firms do to help the sector seamlessly connect and digitalise their workflows in this period?

4) Perspectives: from occupiers; from asset managers, from developers.

If you are interested in writing a Guest article for RAM’s special report, as a Guest Blog in our daily newsletter, or to volunteer to take part in a one-on-one recorded video discussion with us, please do get in touch today at:

Editorial: james.wallace@realassetmedia.com

Video: richard.betts@realassetmedia.com

Advertising/sponsorship: frank.beinborn@realassetmedia.com

We look forward to hearing from you.

‘Food-anchored retail is much in demand in Germany’

Dirk Hoenig Ohnsorg, MD, Head of Retail Development Germany, Colliers International

Dirk Hoenig Ohnsorg, MD, Head of Retail Development Germany, Colliers International

Dirk Hoenig Ohnsorg, MD, Head of Retail Development Germany, Colliers International, tells The Real Estate Day that investors’ appetite for shopping centres has decreased but retail real estate is still the second largest asset class with a stable turnover despite changing sentiment


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Rebalancing work and life

The rapid spread of the coronavirus globally has placed many corporates on an accelerated path of enacting remote working universally across their workforce.

This inevitably will place strain on existing systems, take employees out of their established routines and require the development of new processes amongst a myriad of other challenges.

In light of this, Cushman & Wakefield has developed a new series of podcasts, focusing on rebalancing the work-life experience during the pandemic. In this first podcast, Cushman provides a fundamental grounding of remote working through a three-stage approach, backed up by quantitative data analysis from our bespoke Experience per Square FootTM (XSF) database and real-world experiences.

Key Takeaways of Cushman’s first Podcast in this new series:

  1. In this transition to widespread remote working, close attention should be paid to seven key factors, including but not limited to: culture, collaborative technology and information flow.
  2. Remote workers have a more positive workplace experience than office-based workers, founded upon increased flexibility.
  3. The lessons from this current period are likely to echo for many years. Corporates will need to adjust to a new paradigm embracing a flexible workplace to drive trust, culture, well-being, productivity and loyalty.

As Cushman highlighted in the podcast, many of these factors are strongly correlated in the data. Improvement in one will buoy the others, creating exponential benefits to employee experience.

If you are interested in writing in sharing a guest Blog post with us, or to volunteer to take part in a one-on-one recorded video discussion with us, please do get in touch today at: james.wallace@realassetmedia.com

Guest Blog: Eviction ban set to spread across Europe

The UK may have been one of the last countries in Western Europe to implement a lockdown to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, but it was the first to announce new measures to protect commercial tenants from being evicted if they are unable to pay their rent via an emergency Coronavirus Bill currently going through UK parliament.

By Judi Seebus, Bellier

Robert Jenrick, the UK secretary of state for housing, communities and local government, has pledged that no UK business will be forced out of their premises if they miss a payment in the next three months, London-based real estate trade magazine Property Week reported earlier this week in an online bulletin. “We are providing extra protection for businesses with a ban on eviction for commercial tenants who miss rent payments,” Jenrick was quoted as saying.

Similar measures are being taken in the US as Covid-19 continues to exert a significant drag on the economy, according to law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. In a note published on Infabode, the London-based real estate information platform, BCLP said last Wednesday there is a growing trend of governmental action to provide temporary protections of possession and tenancies at the national, state and local level. “The government actions vary in form, duration and scope, but will generally delay the course of foreclosure or eviction.” 

In the residential sector, both the UK and US have already taken measures to protect tenants from being evicted from their homes due to payment arrears linked to loss of income as the coronavirus pandemic spreads and leaves many people without a job. A number of continental European countries are following suit. On 26 March, Dutch landlords and the national government agreed to a ban on evictions and an emergency directive will be introduced to extend all temporary rental contracts for residential occupiers.

According to well-informed sources, the German government is likewise preparing emergency legislation to ease the pain of residential occupiers and commercial tenants hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, in particular retailers outside of the food, medical supplies and other staples segments, restaurant and bars, as well as the leisure and entertainment sector.

While some major landlords are waiting for a legal framework to decide whether they need to take action in this uncharted territory, others have been plotting their own course.

In the Netherlands, for example, Dutch institutional investor Bouwinvest, which manages the market’s largest residential fund, as well as being a major player in the retail, office, logistics and healthcare sectors, did not wait for government action and already communicated a rental payment deferral offer to both its commercial and residential tenants soon after the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared the outbreak a pandemic on 11 March. Another major Dutch institutional investor, ASR Real Estate, part of insurer ASR, has taken the same route. And earlier this week in Spain, listed property company Merlin Properties announced it would suspend rent payments for all its retail and hotel occupiers which have been forced to close their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As national governments race to catch up with the fast pace of developments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, these companies may in retrospect appear to have been prescient in their course of action. That said, the harsh reality is that many property landlords also require additional reassurance in these times of unprecedented challenges. It is to be hoped that their call for support is also heard by governments across Europe.

If you have news items on how your company is contributing to community outreach and support in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, then please email james.wallace@realassetmedia.com or judi.seebus@bellierfinancial.com for consideration on inclusion in this Blog on Real Asset Media.

‘Operational real estate is a new focus’

Stephen Miles, Head of Operational Real Estate, CBRE

Stephen Miles, Head of Operational Real Estate, CBRE

Stephen Miles, Head of Operational Real Estate, CBRE, tells The Real Estate Day that they have created a centre of excellence that looks at what used to be called alternatives because more clients are interested in the living space across European countries


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Guest Blog: How the hotel sector across Europe could play a crucial role in managing the COVID-19 crisis

Europe’s hotel industry could have an important role to play in the management of the COVID-19 crisis. Many hotels have availability due to cancelled events and bans on all non-essential travel implemented by various countries. At the same time, many hotels are often well-located.

Marie Hickey, commercial research director at Savills, that may be of interest. 

Ireland, for example, has 60,000 hotel beds and we estimate that approximately 15,000 of these are close to the main hospitals. Germany has over 680,000 hotel beds (excluding hostels/smaller hotels), with a similar number in the UK, and the Netherlands has close to 285,000 hotel beds. Many of these are in the countries’ largest cities, such as London, Berlin, Hamburg and Amsterdam, where demand is expected to be highest.

China has, so far, successfully contained the virus and one of the key tools it deployed was the use of enhanced medical centres and a large number of isolation centres, many of which were hotels. Many of the tactics used in China in terms of repurposing buildings and accommodation to deal with growing numbers of COVID-19 patients can be replicated in Europe.

In the case of China, hotel occupancy has been improving over the last month as the number of new cases has declined significantly, with the epicentre of the virus, Wuhan, reporting the strongest bounce. Some of this does reflect growth off a low base but has been primarily driven by demand from health professionals staying in the city and by former patients remaining in hotels before returning home.

In Ireland, Tánaiste, the deputy head of the Government, Simon Coveney recently said that hotels and other large-scale properties could be used as isolation units, if necessary. At that time, he asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to identify thousands of extra beds in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the UK, the first hotel chains have already approached the Government with, for example, Best Western Great Britain volunteering to convert some of its 270 hotels into temporary hospitals for the NHS. The company is currently offering 15,000 beds and more than 1,000 meeting rooms to NHS staff, care workers, families, low-risk patients and those over 70 years old to allow COVID-19 patients to take up much-needed hospital bed space.

Similarly, Britannia Hotels has advised the Government that it can provide accommodation for 600 patients across the UK. Chelsea Football Club has said that the Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge can be made available to medics, with the NHS accepting the offer. GG Hospitality, whose founders include former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, has closed both its Manchester hotels to guests and offered them to health workers.

There have also been calls from bodies such as Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) to support those without a home who may contract the virus with hotel accommodation.

Self-isolation for those who are homeless is virtually impossible – so we need to look at ways in which we can make this feasible. Again, hotel accommodation is an obvious solution.

If you are interested in writing in sharing a Guest Blog post with us, or to volunteer to take part in a one-on-one recorded video discussion with us, please do get in touch today at: james.wallace@realassetmedia.com

RAI Coronavirus Special Report: financing and restructuring

Real Asset Media is preparing a special report to analyse the impacts of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic across our sector. RAM will donate every second advertising Euro to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.

Today, we outline our editorial approach to how the coronavirus will impact financing markets, the role of banks and other lenders in supporting landlords, and whether we are likely to see a new wave of administrations, insolvencies, CVAs, and bankruptcies.  

The role of banks and other lenders will be critically important during this global crisis, and in its likely protracted aftermath. Marginal companies’ cashflows will be severely tested in vulnerable sectors.

Financing

  • Has liquidity dried up across the board? What are lenders’ approach to new lending and existing extension and refinancing talks at this time?
  • To what degree has pricing spiked or not?
  • Are lenders imposing new covenants?
  • Will lenders ‘forgive’ covenant breaches on corporate and secured facilities if tenant reduced cashflows prevent rental payments? Lenders will want governments to similarly be their backstop, have monetary and fiscal measures been supportive enough of lenders to enable them to support businesses?
  • Will lenders return to the ‘extend and pretend’ strategy during the GFC?
  • How lenient/strict are lenders being
  • How do you see the scenarios from here?

Restructuring

  • Governments and central banks have been decisive, but they will not be able to save everyone. Do you expect a new wave of insolvencies/bankruptcies/CVAs etc, or will national government emergency legislation successfully prevent these wind-up proceedings?
  • How will the situation vary by region?
  • Companies will be re-examining their underwriting for existing portfolios to assess vulnerabilities: what should vulnerable companies look out for?
  • Will there be a wave of loans defaults, leading to a new vintage of NPL loan sales?
  • What kinds of consultancy are rea estate companies seeking from restructuring specialists at this time? What is the volume of demand for emergency restructuring likely to be?
  • How do you see the scenarios from here?

Real Asset Media is also preparing a series of video interviews and virtual briefing events focused around these topics, the first of which will be on the macro picture and speakers will be announced shortly.  

RAM will donate every second advertising Euro to the Coronavirus Relief Fund. If you are interested in supporting the Real Asset Media special report with advertising please email: thorsten.herbert@realassetmedia.com or frank.beinborn@realassetmedia.com;

If you would like to send through editorial commentary or research for the report, please email: james.wallace@realassetmedia.com.

If you would like to be part of our new video conference series or would like to contribute to our ongoing video interviews (conducted via Zoom), please email: richard.betts@realassetmedia.com

PR’s are very welcome to provide commentary and suggest spokespeople on behalf of their clients. Thank you for supporting this initiative.

‘Buying property remains the all-time favourite trend’

Dominique Pfrang, Senior Manager, PwC

Dominique Pfrang, Senior Manager, PwC

Dominique Pfrang, Senior Manager, PwC, tells The Real Estate Day that Google Trends shows that recently market participants have been concerned about bubbles in Europe and that searches on selling real estate have gone up, but the positive thing is that buying is still the number one priority


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