BMW Heiress Buys $435 Million Stake in Frankfurt Skyline

Susanne Klatten, Germany’s richest woman, has staked a claim in Frankfurt’s growing skyline.

Klatten, 52, who owns about 12 percent of luxury carmaker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, bought the Winx office tower in a project scheduled for completion in 2017, seller DIC Asset AG said in a statement yesterday. The tower, which will form a landmark in the MainTor waterfront development, will cost about 350 million euros ($435 million) to build.

Investors including Blackstone Group LP and Korea’s Samsung SRA Asset Management are flocking to Germany’s financial capital, which also became the center of banking regulation in Europe after the European Central Bank took charge of banking supervision earlier this month. Asset managers are set to spend about 5 billion euros on Frankfurt commercial properties this year, 22 percent more than in 2013 and the highest since 2007, according to data compiled by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

“Frankfurt has very good cards in the competition as a global financial center,” Joerg Appelhans, Klatten’s spokesman, said by phone. “Because of the ECB, more regulators are moving here and so there’s a growing need for high-quality office space.”

Klatten, a member of the Quandt family, is the world’s 50th richest person, with a $16.2 billion fortune, according to Bloomberg data.

Frankfurt’s Eastend

ECB staff moved into new headquarters in the city’s Eastend this month. The central bank hired about 900 new employees at its banking supervision arm, which will relocate to the ECB’s former base in the Eurotower in the center of town.

Buyers are turning to real estate in the hunt for returns as interest rates hover near record lows. Prices in Frankfurt are rising and vacancies are falling, fueling a construction boom in the city’s financial district and downtown shopping area.

Earlier this year, Blackstone agreed to buy Frankfurt’s MesseTurm, once Europe’s tallest tower, for about 250 million euros, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who declined to be named because the sale is private. Samsung, part of Seoul-based Samsung Life Insurance Co., agreed to acquire the Silberturm for 450 million euros, PropertyWeek reported in October.

“Demand in Frankfurt is very high and it’s coming from a wide range of buyers,” said Sven Carstensen, a Frankfurt office analyst at Bulwiengesa AG. “Yields here, even if they’re not very high, are still more attractive than leaving your money in the bank.”

Office property values rose 4 percent in the third quarter to 9,032 euros per square meter, according to Jones Lang. Developers will build about 303,000 square meters (3.26 million square feet) of offices in Frankfurt this year, 49 percent more than in 2013 and the most since 2003, the U.S. real estate brokerage estimates.

The 29-story Winx office tower is part of DIC’s 108,000 square meter MainTor waterfront development, which is marketed as Frankfurt’s new “Riverside Financial District,” with 11 office, apartment and retail buildings that will cost 750 million euros to build over six years.