After having invested more than 100 million euros in the purchase of various assets in Portugal in 2021, in addition to 100 million euros in the new headquarters in Lisbon and Porto, the Ageas Portugal Group maintains its interest in our country, and aims to focus on new sectors, such as student residences or senior residences.
In an interview with Vida Imobiliária, during a visit to the company's new headquarters in Lisbon, Gilles Emond, the group's Head of Real Estate, states that the insurer invests in Portugal «from a long-term institutional investor perspective», believing that «we have today a great portfolio of offices, having acquired several buildings last year. We have, probably, one of the best portfolios of offices in Portugal».
Emond considers that the office market in Portugal «is quite healthy. There are few projects available, we do not have a large pipeline for the coming years, as there are still major constraints in terms of licensing. On the other hand, we have great demand». This investment wants to continue this year, namely in cities such as Aveiro, Braga or Coimbra, in addition to Lisbon and Porto, but «we are not going to carry out large volume operations, due to a matter of capacity and management».
On the other hand, Ageas intends to diversify its portfolio, such as the student residence it is developing in Porto. “Long-term contracts are attractive to international investors like us. And it is difficult to find projects of this kind in Portugal».
The insurer is currently working on two new student and senior housing projects, but Emond does not go into further detail about them. He says that affordable housing would be interesting for the company, but that it is a “difficult” segment.
In Portugal, he highlights the problem of licensing, not so much because of the length of the processes, but because of its uncertainty: «the process is not clear, this is the main problem compared to other countries. We have too many surprises and the process depends on the person you are talking to, and this is not normal”.
He also highlights concerns about construction costs and the need for industrialization of the sector in Portugal, where “there is still a long way to go”, in addition to issues of sustainability and European taxonomy. «In Portugal, there are still few assets that can meet the standards of international investors».
Gilles Emond has no doubts that “real estate continues to be very attractive and in great demand. Commercial real estate is healthy, but we have more doubts in residential. And we have to be careful with uncertainties related to inflation, interest rates, geopolitical uncertainty. But I think globally we remain optimistic.”