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MILAN-Four years after acquiring rights to build this city’s Maciachini Center, fund manager Doughty Hanson & Co. has sold the mixed-use commercial development for $558 million. The one-million-sf complex is opening in four stages through the end of the decade.

“Maciachini has set the gold standard for high-quality office developments in Milan,” Doughty Hanson principal John Howard says when revealing the bifurcated purchase by a Luxembourg investment fund and Italian property developer. “Having initiated and progressed this high-standard development, it is now an opportune moment for us to sell.”

Doughty Hanson was able to strike the necessary preleasing deals to attract investor interest, explains Howard. The first three phases are already under way with commitments from top rated, multinational tenants. The inaugural 290,000 sf of office space is completed and leased to such firms as Macquarie Bank, Mattel, Montblanc and Universal Music, while another 300,000 sf will be occupied by Zurich Italia in June, to be used as the firm’s headquarters. Autogrille, Europa Risorse, Panini Giusto and Virgin Fitness are among the tenants preleasing the 100,000 sf of restaurant, retail and entertainment space soon to open at Maciachini Center.

Milareal Sarl, the Luxembourg investment fund, will take over the space being delivered in the first three phases, while the Italian suitor, Via Imbonati Srl, acquired development rights for the final build out, a plan which allows for 325,000 sf of modern office space.

The sale of Maciachini Center marks the latest investment outcome in Italy for Doughty Hanson, which has been active in the country since 1999. In Milan, the firm renovated one struggling asset into the Bodio Center, a 700,000-sf first-class office project, and remade another vacant building into a 350,000-sf landmark office property now fully leased to L’Oreal Italia. Bodio Center traded for $293 million, while the latter asset fetched $102 million. Doughty Hanson is presently completing a Milan residential project encompassing 110 apartments.

Fueled by the success of Fund I, Doughty Hanson has raised a second investment vehicle focused on European opportunities. Between the two funds, the manager has committed more than $6.1 billion in 10 countries, capital covering 11 million sf of space in 31 projects. Of the 18 deals that already harvested in Fund I, the overall-realized return equaled 4.3 times the cash investment and a gross annual IRR of 44%, Doughty Hanson reports.

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