Axa has taken a significant
step towards rationalising its commercial property operations in
Paris through the formation of a joint venture (JV) with Norwegian
bank Norges Bank, through which both parties will co-invest in
Paris offices.

The JV will be executed on
behalf of Axa France Insurance Companies by the French insurer’s
property unit Axa Real Estate Investment Managers and the Norwegian
bank’s Norges Bank Investment Management unit – which manages the
Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global.

The JV was created following
an initial transaction in which Axa Real Estate agreed to sell to
Norges Bank a 50% stake in seven buildings from its Paris office
portfolio with a total value of €1.4bn ($2bn).

The seven buildings are
located in either the western or central business districts of
Paris and provide a total gross lettable area of about

“The Joint Venture will allow
Axa France Insurance Companies to reallocate capital and diversify
into other European markets, especially the UK and Germany, while
maintaining exposure to this important market by retaining a
significant stake in the joint venture,” said Axa Real Estate CEO
Pierre Vaquier.

He added that Axa Real Estate
will be responsible for the management of assets held by the

Norwegian Government Pension
Fund Global is one of two components of Norway’s state Government
Pension Fund which was established in 2006. The first part of the
fund is The Government Pension Fund Norway, which was previously
known as the National Insurance Scheme Fund. The Government Pension
Fund Global was previously a separate entity called the Petroleum
Fund which is funded by the government’s total income from
petroleum activities.

At the end of 2010, the
Government Pension Fund Global reported total assets of NOK3.077trn
($525bn), up NOK437bn compared with the end of 2009. The increase
was due to transfers to the fund of NOK185bn and return on the
fund’s investments of NOK264bn.

According to Axa, based on Axa Real Estate’s assets under
management of €39.9bn at the end of 2010, it ranks as Europe’s
largest property manager and the second-largest in the