Europa Capital invests in self-storage

The property investor has completed the first of what it hopes will be a series of private equity-linked transactions with the acquisition of a Dutch storage company.

Europa Capital Partners, the opportunistic pan-European real estate investment management group, has joined forces with Merrill Lynch Global Principal Investments to back the management buyout of City Box, a Netherlands-based self-storage business.


The two investors have formed a joint venture for the E40m buyout, backing the founding shareholders Robert Mullin and Russell Jordan.


City Box was established in 1998 and currently operates ten sites. The new financing will enable the company to expand to 20 sites by 2005. Russell Jordan, City Box CEO believes the sector is likely to see strong growth: “Self-storage is relatively new in Europe. Growth potential is expected at around 30 per cent per annum.”


Europa Capital invested from its E225m real estate fund. “We attempt to bridge the gap between private equity and real estate,” said Peter Cluff, finance director at Europa Capital who previously spent nine years at Morgan Grenfell Private Equity. “We will consider most transactions that have a private equity bias.”


Europa also has an appetite for more conventional property transaction, as evidenced recently when it acquired a distribution centre in the Czech Republic for an undisclosed sum. It also benefited from £88.2m sale of the Civil Aviation Authority's London offices which it was invested in as part of Blackmoor Limited Partnership.


Merrill Lynch Global Principal Investments came on board with Europa Capital for the City Box transaction because of the deal size, which was slightly higher than Europa’s typical transaction. Merrill Lynch has been involved in Europe’s largest property deals this year, acquiring Green Property for $1.8bn in June and providing mezzanine financing for the $2.1bn acquisition of Anglo-Dutch property firm in March.