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Outlook positive for Italian commercial real estate

'Italian real estate investment has been flat since 2007, with average quarterly investment volumes of €1 billion per quarter but there is the potential for considerable upside in 2012 and beyond as investors reconsider the next opportunity as country risk subsides. We may also see more international investment move into Italy as the euro zone crisis calms down,' said Robert Stassen, head of EMEA Capital Markets Research at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Patrick Parkinson, Managing Director, head of Capital Markets Italy at Jones Lang LaSalle believes that whilst Italian government bond yields have hit peaks similar to that of Greece and Portugal, prime yields on Italian real estate remain strong. He pointed out that they are 100 basis points higher than yields on similar French and Swedish property.

'Whilst investors are right to feel cautious, we expect more to dip their toe into the water and embrace these opportunities,' he added.

Whilst consumer spending has been weak, Italy’s citizens are some of the richest in the world with average net assets of eight times disposable income. Combined government and household debt is 170%, compared to 240% for the UK.

'We have also seen strong numbers from shopping center REITS with assets in Italy. In addition, major shopping center developers such as Westfield and Eurocommercial are investing in Italian cities such as Milan and Turin,' explained Stassen.

'With this backdrop, we expect more newcomers to take a closer look at the region in the next few months, possibly as a counterbalance to a liquid Paris market and falling volumes in Spain,' he added.