Ardian targets €300m platform from Costockage deal

Blackstone to merge warehouse landlords; Armen in GP stakes deal.

We have a real estate theme this morning, as we first dive into Ardian’s acquisition of a French self-storage company, which the firm plans to use as a cornerstone for a €300 million real estate platform.

Next, we have Blackstone merging a pair of warehouse landlords, creating a company that will own more than 200 properties, spanning about 26 million square feet.

Elsewhere, we have Armen making its second GP stakes deal from GP Stakes Fund I, just as the firm told us it would in January.

Finally, we have a reminder about an exciting event in March that you don’t want to miss.

Well stored

Utilising a self-storage unit has definitely crossed my mind, considering I live in a flat roughly the size of a shoebox. Looks like private equity has noted an opportunity in the sector and this morning we have a story by my colleague Irien Joseph to learn why.

Ardian plans to use self-storage company Costockage as the cornerstone of a real estate platform that could grow up to €300 million, Omar Fjer, MD, and Stéphanie Bensimon, head of real estate at Ardian, told Irien.

Ardian completed the acquisition of Paris-based Costockage in mid-January, its first investment in the self-storage business. Costockage is an online marketplace that links professionals and individuals to storage units owned by businesses and individuals. It also has a self-storage centre operating arm called Kostok with 10 centres across France.

The firm’s real estate fund invested in both the operating company and its properties.

Ardian had been monitoring asset classes that would be compatible with Article 9 of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, which defines funds with sustainable investment or carbon emission reductions as objectives.

“Self-storage was probably the purest asset class in terms of carbon emissions – because it’s not heated, not cooled, [has] limited consumption of water, limited lighting – which makes it an interesting asset class on its own,” Fjer said.

Within that sector, Costockage had several advantages, said Bensimon. Its marketplace “means that they have data knowledge that will be valuable for this type of strategy”, Bensimon said. The company has also digitised its customer and market coverage processes.

I recommend reading Irien’s full story to find out more about the self-storage sector in France and Ardian’s plans with the wider fund. You can find the story here.

Ardian isn’t the only PE firm interested in self-storage. Griffin Capital-backed Stokado acquired Polish self-storage rental business Top Box in November. The acquisition added 4,500 square metres in Warsaw to Stokado’s current portfolio, according to a press statement.

Better together

Sticking with our real estate theme a little longer, and Blackstone is creating a new logistics business, to be named Indurent, by integrating the management of Industrials REIT and St Modwen Logistics’ portfolio of assets.

The combined portfolio, which required 27 individual transactions to build, consists of over 200 assets, totalling more than 26 million square feet.

Blackstone took UK property company Industrials REIT private last year. The offer of 168p per share valued the company’s outstanding stock at £511 million ($646 million; €600 million) although the total enterprise value, including debt, was around £700 million, PE Hub Europe understands.

The UK has been the number one destination for Blackstone’s RE capital deployment in 2023, including over 40 transactions in UK logistics.

“UK logistics is a high conviction theme for Blackstone given our portfolio’s exceptionally strong performance and favourable long-term fundamentals in the sector,” said James Seppala, head of European real estate at Blackstone. “As a pure-play UK logistics company with an exceptional team, Indurent will enable us to continue to capitalise on opportunities in the sector and create value for our investors.”

As predicted

Moving away from real estate now, and Armen will make an equity investment of up to 32 percent in Jolt Capital, an independent private equity firm that invests in deep-tech companies.

Jolt is the second investment via Armen’s GP Stakes Fund I. This investment follows Armen’s minority investment in RGreen Invest in April 2023. The firm said it was expecting to announce its second investment by the end of January in an interview with PE Hub Europe’s Craig McGlashan.

Paris-based Jolt has over €500 million under management. The firm’s pipeline amounts to around 3,000 targets annually, with two-thirds sourced from Jolt.Ninja, its AI platform, and the remaining from its network.

This investment will provide Jolt Capital the resources to continue developing its deep-tech platform and expand from a base in Europe to North America and Asia, according to a release. It will also benefit from the strategic and operational support that Armen provides to its portfolio companies, across cyber security, digitalisation, human resources and international corporate development, the release said.

Exciting event

Before signing off, I want to highlight an event you definitely want to add to your calendar. NEXUS 2024, which takes place on 6-8 March, is the inaugural instalment of an annual summit that aims to recast the conversation around and within private equity and connect limited partners responsible for more than $30 trillion with top-tier general partners.

For GPs, it will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with investors actively seeking allocations to the asset class. For LPs, NEXUS will offer a prime opportunity to connect with peers, gain insights on emerging trends, and meet the managers actively deploying capital.

To book your place or to find out more, take a look at the NEXUS 2024 event page here.