Some of Europe's largest investors, including Aberdeen's Andrew Smith, Allianz's Olivier Piani, Hines' Manfredi Catella and Union Investment's Frank Billand, gathered in Milan last week to discuss the opportunities for investing in Italian real estate.
Organised by law firm DLA Piper at the Expo Italia trade fair, the panel discussion testified to the attractiveness of the property market in Italy, according to DLA Piper's head of European real estate Olaf Schmidt, who moderated the event. 'The strong attendance launches a positive message to the Italian property industry: investors are still looking positively at investment opportunities in Italy,' he said.
While the economy is weighed down by the eurozone and sovereign debt crisis, market experts remain fairly positive about prospects for the real estate sector. 'Italy is a country full of innovation and business - despite the obstacles posed by its central government,' commented Paul Bacon, head of C&W EMEA.
He pointed to the country's relatively low personal debt as well as to the economic strength of its northern regions as the main reasons for optimism. 'I have a view that the Italian economy is in better shape than the UK's,' Bacon added. Prospects look particularly bright in the retail sector, where lower supply compared to most other European countries still leaves space for opportunistic expansion.
Bacon: 'Even in Milan, there is no real dominant shopping centre at the moment and it will be interesting to see how the Westfield Milan shopping centre will pan out. In general, we see that tthere is still sroom for expansion in the retail sector.'
PropertyEU is publishing a complete review of DLA Piper's conference 'Investing in Italian Real Estate - Yes!' in the August/September edition.
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