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US Westcore expands in Europe, plans to spend $100 mln

Nearly two years after entering the European market, California-based Westcore Properties said this week it is allocating $100 million of capital there to acquire, develop and operate regional airports and other commercial real estate projects associated with airports.

The privately-held company has opened Airport Development Partners SA, an affiliate that will be headed by Thomas Frankl, who has 20 years of airport industry experience and lobbying at an international level, according to a Westcore release. ADP will have its main office in Lausanne, Switzerland, where Westcore has its European headquarters, and a project office in Poland. Zbig Labaj, an airport industry expert, will run the Central and European operations from the Polish office. “Airport Development Partners is excited about its association with Westcore as it enables the company to develop strong synergies,” said Frankl, the ADP CEO. “Many of the assets our company is acquiring have tangential real estate projects including airport logistics and commercial development that Westcore’s team of professionals can assist with.”

One of ADP’s first projects is negotiating the acquisition of land adjacent to the airport in Vienna, Austria, for the development of cargo and logistics facilities, according to Westcore. Other projects include development of cargo facilities at Airport Bratislava, the main international airport in Slovakia; infrastructure reconstruction at two Polish airports and unspecified development in Sion, Switzerland.

Through Westcore Sarl, Westcore Properties has acquired 1.6 million square feet of industrial and office buildings in Switzerland and Austria in the last 14 months. Westcore’s website notes it is active in Germany, Slovakia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary and Poland. When Westcore announced its move into Europe in June, 2006, Marc Brutten, the firm’s founder & chairman, said at the time, “We believe that once Westcore is established in Europe, more fund platforms will be made available as we will have an established base and asset management team in place that can mobilize into a variety of different countries, thereby benefiting Westcore’s U.S. operations and investment partners.”

Formed in 2000, Westcore and its principals have invested more than $2.2 billion in properties with more than 10 million square feet of space. Westcore is particularly active in the Western United States, particularly in California; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Denver; Phoenix; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. However, Westcore recently made an East Coast acquisition, buying a 455,000-square-foot manufacturing building on 51 acres in Charlotte, N.C., for $25 million from Flextronics International USA Inc., according to a March 25 CPN report.

Flextronics planned to lease the building from Westcore. The company also bought a nine-building manufacturing complex from Flextronics in Milpitas, Calif., in December 2007, in another sale-leaseback deal. More recently, Westcore acquired an 11-building mixed-use portfolio in Sausalito, Calif., that included office, restaurant, industrial and artist space, CPN reported March 3. (Commercial Property News)