NFU Mutual has sold Zodiac at Gemini Business Park to Barings as part of a £234m deal. Credit: Google Earth

Barings buys Countryside’s Warrington factory site

NFU Mutual has sold an eight-strong industrial asset portfolio to the American-based investment firm for £234m.

Included in the deal was Zodiac, a 129,000 sq ft timber frame modular factory at Gemini Business Park in Warrington. Countryside Properties signed a 15-year lease for the space in 2018.

The other seven properties acquired by Barings Real Estate were located in the Midlands, South West and South East.

All of the units are fully let, with most of the 1.5m sq ft floor area portfolio set in the Midlands.

“As one of our preferred investment sectors, alongside offices and residential, we are always keen to explore opportunities in the logistics space,” said Darren Hutchinson, managing director and head of UK real estate transactions at Barings.

“We believe the pricing shift in the sector, in particular for CPI-linked assets with cap and collars, represents a short-term relative value opportunity, particularly given the strength of the sector’s long-term fundamentals,” Hutchinson continued.

“Having grown our logistics portfolio over the past few years, this acquisition of prime assets in excellent locations, with an impressive and diversified tenant mix, significantly enhances our reach in the market.”

Barings is looking to continue to grow its industrial portfolio, according to Charles Weeks, head of European and Asia Pacific real estate.

“The UK logistics market continues to perform strongly from an occupational perspective and we believe provides robust characteristics to support our longer-term investment strategy,” Weeks said.

“Our appetite remains for other core and value-add real estate opportunities in UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Nordics.”

Acre and CMS represented Barings on the deal. Burbage Realty, Knight Frank and Gowling WLG acted for NFU Mutual.

Jon Brice, fund manager at NFU Mutual, said the deal was in line with the firm’s industrial strategy. He continued: “I would like to thank all those involved in this transaction, in particular the teams at Burbage Realty, Knight Frank, Hollis, PSK and Gowlings.”

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