Berlin buffs up its appeal as a post-Brexit haven

A building boom and low prices are luring the super-rich to the German capital

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Berlin, long famous as Europe’s capital of hipsters, students and semi-retired rock stars, is being reborn as a haunt of the super-rich. When David Bowie moved to West Berlin for three years in the 1970s, the city was awash with cheap housing and a thriving underground music scene.

Today, Schöneberg, the district where Bowie lived, and neighbouring Kreuzberg, popular with Turkish immigrants, are unrecognisable. The punks and revolutionaries have been replaced by young professionals, and squats have given way to penthouses and artisanal coffeehouses even as graffiti decries the area’s gentrification.

Germany is home to more than 13,000 ultra-wealthy individuals (those with a net worth above $30m), according to Wealth-X, the research company which tracks the activities of the super-rich, up almost 5 per cent compared with 2016. In terms of appeal to the wealthy, its research ranks Berlin as the 11th most attractive place to invest.

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Full article here !

Written by Hugo Greenhalgh in the Financial Times (Nov 14 2017)

Brexit impacts real estate as investors favour Germany over UK

As British researchers focusing on all sectors of the UK economy continue to attempt to confirm if Brexit will have a positive or negative impact on the market as a whole, new figures suggest investment-friendly sentiment is in the early stages of turning its back on Britain. Despite record investment in London, particularly in early 2017, German real estate opportunities have eclipsed the desirability of their UK counterparts for the first time – possibly in anticipation of a wider financial shift toward the mainland following Britain’s divorce from Brussels.

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Just one week later, however, a new study from online real estate investment platform BrickVest has suggested the opposite. The online financial marketplace allows clients to invest in institutional quality real estate globally. Leveraging data from its platform and a survey of 3,500 professional real estate investors from a number of the world’s largest economies, the company has concluded that the continuing saga of Brexit is having an impact on the attractiveness of UK property. According to the analysis of BrickVest’s latest Commercial Property Investment Barometer, 33% of investors named Germany as their preferred destination.

This is the first time that Germany has been chosen as the number one region to invest in ahead of the UK, which was selected by just over a quarter of respondents, at 27%.

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Full article here (consultancy.uk)

Berlin Retains Top City Billing in Emerging Trends 2018

Berlin has been ranked the top city for investment and development for the fourth year in a row by Europe’s real estate community.

The German capital came first out of 31 cities in Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2018, the annual forecast published by the Urban Land Institute and PwC. The report is based on the opinions of more than 800 property professionals.

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Equity and debt are expected to be just as plentiful in 2018, despite the threat of rising interest rates, while this year’s high levels of investment are forecast to continue.

The fact that German cities once again took four of the top 10 spots in the report’s score card of prospects ‘is no surprise’ says the report’s section discussing Markets to Watch. ‘Germany has been steady state for a long time now. With Berlin, people truly believe it’s going to become a major city’, a pan-European financier says.

Full article here

Article written by jane Roberts, in Market Watch.

Investment in Berlin startups jumped by €1 billion this year, study shows

Venture capital investments in German startups hit a record level in the first half of 2017, with Berlin seeing a huge rise in funding for its startup scene, a new report shows.
Funding rounds for startups in Germany and the overall value of funding hit record levels in the first six months of this year, a report released this month by professional services firm EY reveals.

Investment Capital Berlin - Source: EY

The total number of investments in German startups rose by 6 percent in comparison with the same period in 2016, to 264.

But the really explosive growth was seen in the overall size of investment. In the first half of this year, €2.163 billion of investors’ money went into startups, an increase of roughly €1.2 billion in comparison with the first half of 2016.

That growth was mainly driven by the e-commerce sector. At €939 million, over 40 percent of overall funding went into e-commerce. But health, FinTech and software startups all saw significant investment growth.

Link to article

Berlin’s not perfect, but Samsung is right: it’s more fun than London

Felix Petersen, managing director of Samsung Next Europe, reportedly says that his company will not set up its headquarters in London. It’s just “not a fun place to live unless you are really rich”, is the rationale. Instead, Petersen and colleagues will set up shop in Berlin, hoping to find a home that is both far more enjoyable and affordable.

Club in Berlin - Photograph: Christian Jungeblodt for the Guardian

As a Berliner, I can give Petersen some idea of what he can expect.

Certainly, there are things to say about London, where I lived for 14 years before moving to Berlin. The last time I was there, very recently, a signal failure saw the cancellation of all trains between Paddington and Slough in the very middle of rush hour. No rail replacement bus services were arranged: people were simply expected to trek home with the aid of suddenly exorbitant taxi fares. For one of the most expensive transport systems in the world, there didn’t seem to be much bang for your buck. It seemed to be a fitting metaphor for a town apparently desperate to become Geneva-on-Thames.

One can see why Petersen’s eye might settle on Berlin, for it has long been seen as a mecca for tech startups, with its lower costs allowing them to recruit and retain young talent. Samsung’s arrival may mark a greater maturity of that market, allowing younger companies to rebase in a capital more easily accessible than London or San Francisco.

Petersen and colleagues will find much to love in Berlin. There are parks, lakes and forests within a short train ride, nightclubs on which the sun never sets. There are theatres, food markets, streets of endless bars.

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Link to the article

Entrepreneurs, Academics & Entrepreneurial Academics succeed in Berlin

With Berlin’s plethora of life science research and academia, opportunities abound for biotech entrepreneurs. Here’s how the city bridges the gap between science and business!

So much research, so many opportunities for academics and entrepreneurs. Berlin boasts 35 large research institutions focused on life sciences, and around 130 hospitals — including Europe’s largest and most renowned university hospital, Charité. The research clout of Berlin described through quantity is impressive on its own, and the city has the quality to match.

Two German institutions dominating the Nature Index as some of the most prolific publishers in the magazine count with institutes in Berlin: the Max Planck Society, number four on the list, claims Institutes of Infection Biology and Molecular Genomics, and the Helmholtz Association, number eight, has the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. In fact, our editor, Evelyn, was inspired by Berlin’s top-notch research to move here from New York City for a PhD in chemistry and chemical biology at the Freie Universität!

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Link to the article

Look out, London. Berlin’s startup scene is ready for a Brexit bonanza

Startups that previously looked to London are being wooed by Berlin’s fast-developing scene. But can Germany capitalise on Brexit uncertainty?

At a co-working space on Friedrichstraße, Berlin’s startup economy is getting ready for Brexit. Mindspace’s first location in Germany, opened in April 2016, sits in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, flanked by high-end fashion shops and perfumeries. Its walls are adorned with hand-stencilled signs directing people, in English, to the “yummy kitchen” and “awesome offices”. It feels exactly like the startup scene in London – and that’s deliberate. What London stands to lose after Brexit, Berlin hopes to gain.

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“Berlin is starting to be considered as a startup ecosystem, particularly targeting the tech startup scene,” says Nijvenko. The company’s “official language”, she explains, is English. All signs, documents and posts on the community’s private Facebook group are auf Englisch. Its co-working spaces bare an uncanny resemblance to a template Silicon Valley, faux-hipster style – superfluous clocks; plush, well-worn armchairs; Communist-era televisions; and work from local artists adorn almost every remaining inch of space. Around 760 members pay between €250 and €450 per month (£215 and £390) to use the space, with the two additional sites in Berlin upping capacity to more than 2,000 people. Business is booming. “The political incentives right now are targeting the startup ecosystem. Berlin is very affordable, so for startups it’s the best place to be,” says Nijvenko.

Link to the article

Berlin identified as the top five ‘opportunity’ markets for expansion of the serviced apartment sector across Europe

Dublin ranked Globally for serviced apartment sector

International real estate advisor, Savills have identified Dublin, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona as the top five ‘opportunity’ markets for expansion of the serviced apartment (also known as the ‘Extended Stay’) sector across Europe.

Dublin, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona were all ranked highly due to them having sizeable corporate and overseas visitor markets with strong outlook in terms of GDP and employment growth. But more importantly they also had very constrained stock levels relative to their overnight visitor market.

According to Savills, €416.5m was invested into Europe’s Extended Stay sector in 2015, a year-on-year increase of 32.9%.

The majority share (90%) was invested into the UK, with Germany (7%), Switzerland (2%) and Belgium (1%) at the forefront of activity within what is a relatively immature asset class on the continent.

In order to identify the new opportunity markets for this sector, the Savills research team analysed the following factors within a matrix of 35 European cities – the presence of large corporates, GDP and employment growth forecasts and overnight visitor market and supply drivers (current stock relative to overnight visitor including that of hotels) for the sector.

Commercial research director at Savills, Marie Hickey says, “We anticipate that evolving consumer trends of millennial business travellers and the success of AirBnB in highlighting alternative accommodation options, such as Extended Stay, across Europe will help the sector further tap into existing unmet demand.”

Source: Link to the Business World’s article

Colossal Nazi holiday camp converted to luxury seaside apartments

With estate agents waxing lyrical about the “smell of the sea, the scent of pines and panoramic views of nature” you could almost be forgiven for forgetting the sinister past of the luxury Baltic seaside apartments at New Prora, which were purpose built for 20,000 members of Adolf Hitler’s Aryan “master race”.

Comprising a single and monstrous five-storey concrete housing block stretching almost three miles along the sand dune and pine-studded coast of the east German island of Rügen, the former Prora holiday camp is one of the longest buildings in Europe. It was designed as the Nazis’ answer to Butlin’s.

Now, 76 years after it was built,  the first full-time tenants are moving in to the so-called “Colossus of Rügen”. After decades of inaction and shame about its Nazi past, the complex is being gradually turned into luxury flats. Fifty-seven have been sold, the lowest priced costing €176,000 for  a small three-room apartment.

The knowledge that the site of his flat was meant to provide “quality time” for the German masses under the Nazi “Strength Through Joy”  recreation programme did not seem to worry its new owner Roland Glöckner.

“It may sound peculiar, but it was love at first sight,” said the 51-year-old Berlin advertising executive after moving in to his 60sq metre flat.

(Read more – http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/colossal-nazi-holiday-camp-converted-to-luxury-seaside-apartments-31226643.html)

Low German Inflation Continues to Hide Underlying Economic Strength

German inflation figures may be low, but stronger than expected growth rates, rising confidence indicators and an ever tighter labor market make the ECB’s monetary policy look too expansionary for the Eurozone’s largest economy. With diverging economies within the Eurozone, German is poised to expand at a rapid rate as the European Central bank waits for Germany’s neighbors to catch up.

The first wage deal for this year suggests the strongest rise in real income for many years and above average increases in labor costs are set to undermine German competitiveness in the medium term. At the same time the risk of a property bubble is also rising.

German Q4 GDP growth was confirmed at 0.7% quarter over quarter, confidence indicators are climbing higher, with especially consumer confidence rising sharply. The labor market is already tight and Thursday’s jobless numbers showed another stronger than expected dip in headline rates. Inflation may be low at the moment, but mainly due to the impact of lower oil prices and from a German perspective, monetary policy clearly is already looking too expansionary even before the ECB starts its bond buying program.

The trend will boost consumption and domestic demand as exceptionally low interest rates are limiting the willingness to save. The German GfK consumer confidence numbers Thursday, showed a sharp rise in income as well as an improvement in the willingness to buy. This ties in with the details of German Q4 GDP numbers, which showed that in this recovery consumption and not exports, is a key driving factor.

For many Germans, urged to build up private pension portfolios property investment is looking increasingly attractive. Apparently safer than stock markets, but with considerably higher returns than bonds. While the price of the average property transaction is rising, the share of income private homeowner’s use for interest rates and repayments has fallen over the past years.

The current low interest environment won’t last forever and we have seen in countries such as Spain, Ireland and Portugal what happens when investors are unprepared for a rise in financing costs. The ECB argues that safeguarding against the risks of a property bubble are up to national central banks and governments. Germany has been promising measures to limit the trend and the Bundesbank is keeping a close eye on developments, but with the ECB preparing for even more easing measures, this is an area of risk that should not be overlooked, especially considering the devastating effects of the property crashes elsewhere. IF Germany should face the same problems, who would be there to bail out the largest country in the Eurozone.

With the ECB poised to begin its bond purchase program on Monday and sovereign bond hard to source, prices will continue to move higher which in turn should weaken the European currency. (Source)