Disposal of the 77 hectare site, situated near Bern, Switzerland, which included a series of buildings with a total floor area of 228,000 sq m, together with accompanying residential and agricultural land. Carter Jonas were appointed on Swiss Central in January 2012 and the marketing campaign included a multi-lingual website.
The site was located within three separate planning authorities, Biberist, Derendingen, and Gerlafingen, which made the sale slightly more complex. Most of the site is located in the local Biberist Council and all the authorities were within the control of the main Canton, Solothurn. It was Carter Jonas’s view that the site had mixed use potential. It was clear that some of the buildings could be reused, subject to full market testing, but many of the older buildings were unlikely to suit most modern day user requirements without upgrading, meaning they were likely to be more suitable for redevelopment. Any redevelopment opportunity would need to take into account the requirement to preserve employment uses at the site.
Having worked with the client previously, it was clear what their objectives were. In order to achieve them it was going to require further understanding of the sites, its constraints and opportunities as well as the local market within the town of Biberest. Andrew Smith, Director of Agency at Carter Jonas, put together a team including Director Frédéric Schneider of the European Corporate Service team together with a development mixed use and industrial team to ensure we reached all potential end buyers for the site. The team then sought to fully understand the site, its planning opportunities, and the full environmental and legal breakdown. Following our research, the understanding of what the property could be in terms of future opportunities and after a full site inspection and measurement spread over a few days, a number of workshops were carried out with the appointed marketing team to put together a branded product which would appeal to local, national and international buyers. A dedicated website, swisscentral.com, was set up, together with a detailed data room to both provide a brand for the product and also an immediately accessible data room.
Following the launch of the website, we then distributed this to an extensive mailing list across Switzerland and Europe, including London, where a number of international buyers congregate, as well as an extensive web and media advertising campaign.
We also worked closely with a local economic team who were actively keen to promote the site and see it be brought into further economic use.
The outcome was to assist Sappi in bringing together a professional and fully prepared due diligence phase to ensure that when a transaction was ready to execute, it happened quickly. A buyer was found for the site in a very short space of time with the sale concluding by July 2012. The site was sold for an undisclosed sum but was a substantial figure, representing the scale and opportunity of the site.
Carter Jonas’s approach and understanding of the client enabled a solution to be delivered quickly, enabling the business to focus on its core area and use the capital to continue to invest in their business in Europe. A quick solution has enabled ongoing running costs of the facility in terms of security and utilities to be mitigated in a short period.