– Kick off with £300 million NFU Mutual partnership –
– First acquisition is £29 million Brindleyplace office building in Birmingham –

Martin Jepson, the former president and chief operating officer of Brookfield Property Partners, and Christopher Cope, the former founding partner of Grafton Advisors, have teamed up to form Ergo Real Estate, a property investor, developer and manager.

Jepson and Cope, who have more than 70 years’ combined experience in the UK property sector, will work with partners, focusing on value-add investment and development opportunities in London and the major cities and conurbations of the UK.

Martin Jepson, co-founder of Ergo Real Estate, said: “Chris and I have known each other for many years and admired each other’s projects as rivals. We decided it would be an opportune time for us to work together, delivering creative solutions to add value to properties”.

Christopher Cope, co-founder of Ergo Real Estate, said: “We believe there will be demand for our skill set in today’s challenging market. Although we are best known for our work in London – Martin in the City and me in the West End – our knowledge and expertise are transferable to the major conurbations of the UK, where we see significant value-add opportunities”.

Their first partnership is with NFU Mutual, the insurance company, Ergo and NFU Mutual have set up Aver Property with £300 million to invest in value-add and opportunistic acquisitions of commercial property assets.

Aver will target investments in the London conurbation, the south east of England and other major UK conurbations.

Individual investments are expected to range between £10 million and £50 million and provide the potential for income enhancement through skilled asset management and through capital value growth from repositioning and re-structuring of assets, leases and occupations and uses.

Richard Topps, Group Head of Property at NFU Mutual, said: “Our new joint venture with Ergo provides us with a very exciting opportunity at this point in the property cycle to add further diversification into our property funds through exposure to different types of assets and through managers with an undoubted track record and different expertise and experience”.

Aver Property’s first acquisition is 2 Brindleyplace, a prominent 78,000 sq ft office building on the Brindleyplace estate in Birmingham. The building was acquired from Hansainvest for £29.25 million, which reflects a net initial yield of 6.5%.

Originally constructed in 1997, 2 Brindleyplace is let to Lloyds Bank until March 2022 at a rent of £2 million a year.

Martin Jepson, co-founder of Ergo Real Estate, said: “2 Brindleyplace is a fantastic first acquisition for the partnership. It is a headquarters office building in an established office market, providing us with opportunities for asset enhancement and rental growth”.

Jepson and Cope have between them completed more than 10 million sq ft of developments, principally in central London. They include in the West End, Stirling Square, 20 St James’s Street and 15 Golden Square, and in the City, London Wall Place, Principal Place and 100 Bishopsgate.

Prior to heading Brookfield’s UK operation, Jepson was Managing Director, London, at Hammerson and has also held executive positions at Howard Holdings, Taylor Woodrow and Delancey.

Cope was a principal founding partner of Grafton Advisors, which was sold to Quintain in 2012 and, four years later, to GreenOak Real Estate, where he had the twin roles of overseeing the company’s development activities and managing and promoting the business.