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WFW advises UNIBAIL-RODAMCO on its €860 million investment in the development of the southern Überseequartier in Hamburg’s HafenCity, Europe’s biggest inner city development project

12 December 2014

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UNIBAIL‐RODAMCO SE and its German subsidiary mfi management für immobilien AG (“mfi”) instructed Watson Farley & Williams (“WFW”) to advise on its high‐profile new development. The firm assisted on all legal and tax matters relating to the urban planning and acquisition of land covering a total of 228,000m² in Überseequartier in HafenCity in Hamburg. WFW advised on real estate, corporate, public and tax law as well as on matters relating to previous financing documentation. This included advice on the development, structuring and planning of the project and the acquisition of land.

The HafenCity area is Europe’s biggest inner city development project, and Überseequartier is this year‘s largest real estate project in Germany, representing an investment of €860 million.

Unibail‐Rodamco is Europe’s leading listed commercial property company and has held 46% of shares in the shopping centre company mfi since 2012. The company signed an agreement on 10 December for the urban planning, development and acquisition of the land in Überseequartier. The agreement is between Unibail‐Rodamco, the city of Hamburg and the former development consortium, which consists of Groß & Partner Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH and Propertize B.V. The agreement is subject to ratification by the State Parliament of Hamburg.

The Überseequartier project has a strategic location in the heart of HafenCity in Germany’s second largest city. It will connect Hamburg’s city centre with the banks of the Elbe River and enlarge the city’s town centre area by nearly 8 hectares. The project will consist of a mixture of properties, including retail, restaurants, a multi‐screen cinema, a cruise terminal, offices, housing and a hotel, all housed within a premium architectural development.

87,000m² will be developed by investment partners and will be dedicated to offices and residential buildings.

The opening of the retail and entertainment components of the project is targeted for the second half of 2021.

UNIBAIL‐RODAMCO subsidiary mfi is a fully‐integrated shopping centre company and offers product development, planning and construction services via leasing, long‐term centre and facilities management to asset management and portfolio development. mfi manages 27 centers and has more than 500 employees in Germany.

The international WFW team was led by Munich partner Dr. Dirk Janssen (overall coordination/Corporate) and Hamburg partner Michael‐Alexander Rojnic (Real Estate). WFW Hamburg partner Verena Scheibe advised on tax matters. They were supported by partners Dr. Ivana Mikešić (Regulatory/Real Estate, Frankfurt), Axel Löhde (Corporate, Hamburg), Dr. Stefan Kilgus (Banking & Finance, Hamburg), Dr. Christine Bader (Regulatory/Real Estate, Hamburg), Marcus Nothhelfer (IP/Commercial, Munich) and Vincent Trevisani (Corporate, Paris), as well as by associates Alexander Wojtek (Banking & Finance, Hamburg), Dr. Henrik Lay, Timo Kopmann (both Tax, Hamburg), Torge Rademacher, Ursula Staab (both Corporate, Hamburg), Dr. Bich Vu Tuyet (Corporate, Munich), Alexander Schroer, Silvia Ribeiro Da Cunha Heimberg (both Real Estate, Hamburg), Anastasiya Korolchenko (Regulatory/Real Estate, Frankfurt) and Inès Garcia de las Bayonas (Corporate, Paris).

Mfi’s in‐house team was led by Dr. Petra Welge (Head of Legal).

Munich‐based Partner Dr. Dirk Janssen says: “We are extremely pleased to have supported UNIBAILRODAMCO and mfi on this outstanding and complex urban development project. Our close cooperation with UNIBAIL‐RODAMCO’s and mfi’s team as well as our experience in providing comprehensive and integrated advice on international large‐scale projects guaranteed the successful completion of this transaction.”

Hamburg real estate partner, Michael‐Alexander Rojnic adds: “This ambitious real estate project with its mix of property types and close interlinking of different construction projects required extensive forwardthinking in order to provide practical structures for the complex and numerous requirements in different areas. The area to be developed will form the urban heart of HafenCity and will add a modern twist to Hamburg’s panoramic view. This new development will offer Hamburg’s citizens as well as its tourists many innovative possibilities.”

Tax partner Verena Scheibe comments: “Excellent cooperation with UNIBAL‐RODAMCO and mfi on all aspects of the cross‐border tax structuring has really contributed to the project’s success, especially given the complex requirements of an efficient German‐French tax structure and the special challenges of this major project.”

WFW Real Estate Sector head Mark Prevezer comments: “The high‐profile nature of this deal, coupled with its sheer complexity, speaks volumes for the depth and quality of Watson Farley & Williams’ global real estate practice and ability to meet the demands of sophisticated investors worldwide.”