Whether it’s the city’s nonchalant French style, the elegant buildings of its grand boulevards or the plethora of restaurants serving up fine food for business lunches, international investors have a long running love affair with Paris.
Over the last 10 years, they’ve accounted for two thirds of investments in Paris with its business district La Défense serving as the preferred home for their money.
American investors in particular have fallen for the city’s charms, accounting for $5.2 billion of funds flowing into the area. These investments include some of the largest deals ever taken place in La Défense and Paris as a whole, such as the sale of Cœur Défense to Lone Star in 2014 for €1.3 billion ($1.46 billion).
At present, no less than 40 percent of the companies based in La Défense are American-owned and the area’s popularity is showing no sign of waning. Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs and Altafund, an office property investment fund sponsored and operated by Altarea Cogedim, acquired the Pascal tower this year with the aim of redeveloping the building.
So where does its appeal lie? “This market offers investors a highly attractive area: a mature and liquid market, redevelopment opportunities and is a target for major international occupiers,” explains Virginie Houzé, Research Director at JLL France. “For example, Beacon Capital Partners bought AXA’s former tower as a redevelopment project as part of the ‘La Défense Renewal Plan’. The new tower, named First, was immediately leased to EY and Euler Hermès and achieved peak market rental values.”
For American firms, it offers a strong foothold in continental Europe. International Capital Markets says: “Paris has always captured the imagination of Americans – from tourists to Hollywood film directors – but in this case it makes good business sense as well: there is an obvious appeal to investing in a modern and growing business hub. In La Défense particularly there is scope to construct newer buildings and renovate existing stock with fewer constraints on design than there would be for historic buildings.
“With its 3.4 million square meters of office space and 1,500 headquarters, La Défense has become Europe’s top business district in terms of size, density and the number of top companies from across a range of sectors located there – and US firms want to be at the heart of the action.”