Antwerp project developer LIFE strengthens balance sheet with 61.5 million euro capital increase
LIFE, in full Living In Funky Environments, specialist in residential development with exceptional expertise in student rooms and co-living projects, is raising its equity through a capital increase of € 61.5 million. The Cigrang family, via its investment company C. Participations, is investing that amount in the developer of sustainable and unique living spaces, which henceforth intends to call itself a real estate investor as much as a real estate developer. The capital increase is not a financial necessity, with hardly any debt on the balance sheet. “The cash injection increases our opportunities to grow and the possibility to keep projects in our portfolio for longer,” says LIFE founder and chairman of the board Serge Hannecart. “We want to take advantage of the current market to have the possibility to keep our projects in portfolio for longer and position ourselves as an investing developer.”
The Antwerp-based project developer LIFE has been envisioning, designing and developing large-scale innovative urban living concepts for over thirty years. With a keen eye for beauty and detail, they have always created unique and high-quality living, working and living environments. Following this philosophy, LIFE operates in different countries with its managing partners (LIFE.be, LIFE.es, LIFE.it…). Similarly, LIFE equally participates with Gijbels Group and founders Frederik Baert and Gunther Biddelo in Futurn, a company that transforms old industrial buildings into modern, sustainable and socially responsible industrial buildings and business parks. With its participation in Maison Osaïn, LIFE brings a second wind to distinctive and characteristic but neglected homes. LIFE is also the inspirer of the co-working concept Fosbury & Sons. LIFE and its joint ventures stand for high quality regarding sustainability, with a limited ecological footprint before, during and after the construction phase for both visitors and residents of its projects.
“In the coming years, we intend to expand our development activities and our real estate portfolio in the countries where we already operate today, including Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The capital increase is at the same time a recognition of our vision and approach as well as a lever for further growth. Thanks to this capital injection, we are strengthening our position in the real estate market. Despite the challenging market conditions, we do now have the power to further strengthen our portfolio of unique projects.” – Serge Hannecart, LIFE founder and chairman of the board.
In the coming years, LIFE is also aiming for new, affordable and sustainable urban housing for the broadest possible audience, with a focus on co-living and student housing. LIFE is convinced that the maximization of the individual but also communal quality of life of the end users makes for the great appeal of its housing concepts.
The capital increase heralds a new phase of growth and professionalization for LIFE: a new shareholder joins and signs for 49.6 percent of the shares, as much as founder and chairman of the board Serge Hannecart. The remaining 0.8 percent of shares are held by management. LIFE will, at the same time as raising its cash position, also further develop its operational structure to realize its growth plans as an investing developer.
“We anticipate many interesting projects for the upcoming period that we, as a developer, want to tackle with both hands, but we also notice that market conditions are less conducive to selling developed projects again immediately after completion. We are therefore setting up a model whereby we, as investors, have the opportunity to keep our own projects in prime locations in our portfolio for longer. We are anticipating this by strengthening our balance sheet. Sustainable redevelopments of characterful buildings and sites are thus given more time to mature. We are convinced that projects can still gain significant value even after development.” – Serge Hannecart, LIFE founder and chairman of the board.
Although the increases in interest rate may have taken a lot of speed out of the market, and the develop and subsequent sell model may be under pressure, but there are no real bargains yet, says Sigrid Hermans, LIFE’s CFO who has become CEO in the new structure.
“We have not yet seen any real bargains, but they may still come. With very solid equity, we are ready to invest in new projects. If opportunities arise in the market, we will be ready, but in the meantime, we will continue to focus on our own plans and projects which are selected after intense scrutiny. A rigorous acquisition policy remains the cornerstone of our approach. What catches our attention are prime locations, buildings with character and unique opportunities for sustainable redevelopment into mixed residential projects with some form of collectivity (co-living, co-working and student housing) where possible.” – Sigrid Hermans, CEO LIFE.