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CHICAGO-First Industrial Realty Trust is expanding is reach into Europe by hiring two officials from Segro Plc to run offices in Paris and Dusseldorf, Germany. The industrial REIT giant already opened offices in the Netherlands and Belgium last year.

Johannson Yap, CIO, says the trust wants to get into France and Germany because those are the two largest industrial markets in Europe, and both are seeing a growth in intra-country freight travel, meaning that distribution and warehouse facilities will become more needed than ever before. “There’s ever-growing supply chain activity in these markets, a lot due to changes in the European Union. A lot of countries are developing pan-European supply growth for international trade.”

He says the company’s method of entry into a market is always using local experts. The company has hired Christophe Chauvard as country director for France, and Oliver Drecker as country director for Germany. Acquisitions will be made using the balance sheet, as well as a $475 million FirstCal Industrial Europe joint venture with CalSTRS, Yap says.

In France, the trust will concentrate on investment activity in Ile-de-France, a 4,600-square-mile area that includes most of Paris, and Lyon, at the southern end of the logistics corridor. Nearly 190 million people can be reached by truck within four hours from Ile-de-France, and Lyon is home to the largest inland container port in France, Yap says.

Investment in Germany will be focused in the Rhine/Ruhr area, as well as Hamburg and Bremen, Yap says. “There’s a lot of container cargo going through Hamburg, it’s the second largest port in Europe,” Yap says. Germany is the largest country in the European Union, in both the economy and population, with more than 82 million people. Also, German companies are now more interested in sale-leaseback deals to raise capital, Yap says. “We do a lot of business for corporations,” he says. “These types of deals accounted for 40% of transactions last year, offering us great opportunity.”

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