Norton Rose secures second CGI instruction

Norton Rose is riding the current wave of German property investment in the City after landing its second deal within weeks for open-ended fund CGI.

A team at the firm, led by partner Robin Mitchell, is acting for CGI on its £175m purchase of Daiwa’s 240,000sq ft landmark building at 88 Wood Street, EC2, just three weeks after advising the fund on finalising its £192m acquisition of two properties from Hammerson.

The deal is just one of a handful of transactions that UK law firms are reaping as German open-ended funds seek to offload billions of pounds worth of public investment. Last year alone, the German public sank e15bn (£10.4bn) into funds such as CGI, and in January and February alone e5.5bn (£3.8bn) was invested in these open-ended vehicles.

As opposed to closed-end funds, which contain a predetermined amount of capital that must be spent within a finite period, open-ended funds have no definite timeframe for investment and can be continuously topped up.

The rush of work follows a change in German legislation in July 2002, allowing open-ended funds greater freedom to invest in, for example, limited partnerships.

German funds began targeting the UK in the early 1990s after a change in local law meant they could invest outside their own country. Germany’s 22 open-ended funds now own e75bn (£52bn) worth of property assets throughout Europe.

CGI is hoping to gain a 7.5 per cent yield on the 88 Wood Street acquisition, which is around the average return in the City, compared with lower rates in Germany, where funds can expect to earn between just 3 and 4 per cent on their original investment.

Due to the rush of work, Norton Rose could expect to gain a significant amount of work from CGI, which is hoping to sink £1bn into property investment this year.

Nabarro Nathanson, which along with Herbert Smith acted on the CGI-Hammerson deal, also acts for a number of these funds, including DEGI and WestInvest.

Other firms currently enjoying a rash of work include Simmons & Simmons, which acts for DEKA, and Linklaters, which advises DIFA.