Strong demand for European property gets Kennedy Wilson off to a flying start

David Hellier
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There was much excitement this afternoon about the first day's trading in London in the shares of Kennedy Wilson Europe, part of a Beverley Hills, California-based property group that has raised £1.1bn to invest in European properties.

Earlier this month the group said it planned to raise between £500-750m from investors but decided to go for over £1bn in order to go some way to meeting demand. The company has already agreed to buy two properties in the UK, valued at around £220m.

The banks, led by Deutsche and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, tied up nine cornerstone investors, mostly from the US, initially. They agreed to take £600m of stock. The rest of the issue, says one close to the deal, was "multiple times covered." Investors had to be significantly scaled back.

"The establishment of Kennedy Wilson Europe provides a unique opportunity for public market investors to access the highly attractive real estate markets of the UK, Ireland and Spain," chairman Charlotte Valeur said.

Bankers said the issue proved especially attractive to US investors interested in betting on an economic recovery in Europe, especially in real estate. The company is expected to invest heavily in distressed properties in Ireland and Spain.

The shares, issued at £10, were trading at around £10.70 in mid-afternoon.