MARK’s Paris Urban Regeneration Fund acquires former HQ of French national newspaper

MARK’s Paris Urban Regeneration Fund acquires former HQ of French national newspaper

Leading pan-European investment manager MARK, through its Paris Urban Regeneration Fund (MPUR), has acquired the former headquarters of the famous French daily newspaper Liberation. The price and vendor have not been disclosed.

The off-market transaction represents the first investment by MPUR, with co-investment from Eternam, a subsidiary of Cyrus Group.

Through its local development and investment platforms Assembly and Stepling, MARK will transform the asset into a state-of-the-art office building with industry-leading ESG, amenity and technology credentials.

Located in one of the capital’s trendiest and busiest districts, Le Marais, the completed development will be extended from 5,000 sq m to 6,000 sq m by MARK and provide room for 650 employees. Fashion, technology and entertainment companies have been identified as likely occupiers.

As part of the MPUR’s low-carbon regeneration strategy, MARK will focus on obtaining the Low-Carbon Building Renovation (BBCA) label during the redevelopment phase, and the highest environmental certifications available post-completion, including BREEAM Excellent.

A green loan has been agreed with HBSC Continental Europe to finance the project, and the redevelopment of the car park will support Paris’s ambition for the city centre to have all private cars off the road by 2024. The loan benefits from a dedicated Green Framework on which an ESG rating agency has provided an independent second party opinion.

Located on Rue Béranger, less than a two minute walk from the public transport hub of Place de la Republique, the building served as Liberation’s headquarters until 2015 and has been vacant since. Built in the 1950s originally as a multi-storey car park, it was partially redeveloped into a nine-floor office block in the 1980s to host the newspaper.

Philippe Bidaud, managing director of MARK in France and board member, said: “This transaction represents an excellent illustration of our aspirations for MPUR and the attractive opportunities we will seize upon as the market undergoes significant change. Current pricing allows us to invest in ambitious restructuring projects, creating some of the capital’s most sustainable and future-proofed commercial spaces in a city highly sought-after from both an occupier and investor perspective.

“Barriers to entry including land scarcity and tight planning controls are limiting new supply, which is a benefit to those with on-the-ground teams, experience, and a vision to execute wholesale renovation strategies of existing stock. Our vertically integrated model with leading French developer Assembly provides a competitive edge as investment and development teams work seamlessly across the asset lifecycle, from sourcing to underwriting and completion.

“Tightening environmental regulations in France and the rapid ascent of ESG criteria towards the top of most investors’, lenders’ and occupiers’ list of priorities will continue to accelerate the bifurcation between less sustainable and best-in-class space with strong ESG credentials.”

Launched in 2022, MPUR will target €750m in assets under management over the next three years. It seeks to restructure, extend and convert well-located but obsolete or underutilised buildings into prime commercial spaces with unrivalled ESG credentials.

The fund aims to be ISR labelled by October of this year – a benchmarking system introduced by the French government in 2016 which identifies investment funds clearly demonstrating social impact and sustainable development benefits.

Since its establishment in 2012, MARK’s 22-strong team in France has carved out a reputation in the market for its successful acquisition and ESG-focused redevelopment of historic buildings, which have generated an average IRR of 22%.

Previous projects by MARK in France, which manages €10bn in assets across Europe, include:

MARK’s Paris Urban Regeneration Fund acquires former HQ of French national newspaper