Per Wimmer
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Per Wimmer talks about the future of ESG & flexible offices

Per Wimmer, CEO of Wimmer Family Office talks about the current RE climate and the benefits of going green
2 MIN READJune 25, 2019
Per Wimmer is a Danish philanthropist, astronaut, and CEO of Wimmer Family Office. 

What is your vision for the Wimmer Family Office and Wimmer Financial’s future, and what is currently your main focus?

The main focus would be to do some good and well-returning investments, and ultimately continue to grow the business.


You also invest in ETFs, natural resources, infrastructure, shipping and aviation, but where is the value to be found specifically in the commercial real estate?

Commercial real estate collectively offers some great opportunities; first and foremost these are hard assets so they are very tangible and therefore not flaky assets. They are concrete and therefore likely to maintain and hopefully increase their value. Secondly they’re relatively easy to understand in terms of the business - its a building, you rent it out, get a yield and an income, you finance it and balance debt and equity. So it’s quite simple. 


What are your views on flexible workspaces? Do you feel that the change in demographic preferences are structural and that flexible assets will survive the economic downturn?

Yeah for sure, it’s definitely a big growth market. We can see what’s happened in London alone - I believe the alternative flexible office space providers now are the biggest office occupiers in the city. They take up around 10-15% of the total stock, so its clear there is a huge demand for companies to provide flexibility, scale up and down and offer much shorter leases. 


I also understand you have investments in CEE; is this a market that is growing and do you have any cities you prefer? 

It used to be attractive but it’s less so now to be honest. We were quite busy down there about 3 or 4 years ago but the yield compression that we expected has, to a large extent, taken place.


Are you investing in more opportunistic or distressed assets in real estate in Europe? 

I’d say it’s more opportunistic ; we focus a lot more on development assets across the real estate spectrum, so these could be hotels, offices, or student housing for instance. But it’s very spread out, as we prefer to assess the individual opportunity by its own merit. 


You have published a book "The Green Bubble" about the future of green energy. Achieving a higher ESG rating may be attractive, but is it realistic for owners to add value while keeping costs in check? 

Its financially an investment that’s worth doing because you end up with a lower operating cost anyway - of course it costs money to install and set up but once you have it you not only save money in the long term through energy efficiency but you also curb energy consumption and in turn save the planet. There’s actually an increasing number of companies trying to go green as awareness regarding climate change grows. Plus of course they have CRS that they need to meet and of course they like to be seen to be doing good, but also the only way for the curbed energy consumption to be sustainable is if it is commercially sustainable as well, so companies get a double whammy out of this in a way. It’s not just a case of writing a check to look good but it’s actually investing to get a lower OpEx and at the same time you get to do something good for the environment. It’s actually a beautiful thing because it ends up being a win-win-win. 


Some of your personal endeavours include the first tandem skydive over Mount Everest, spending time with tribes in the Amazon Forest, and three separate trips to space. What would be your advice for entrepreneurs on how to become high flyers?

I would recommend the seven Wimmer values which I continue to live by: think outside the box, follow your heart, focus and execute, time discipline, value teamwork, take calculated risks, and always inspire others to follow their dreams; especially children. 


Flexible offices and commercial real estate will be discussed further at Europe GRI 2019 on 11-12 September in Paris and at GRI Offices 2019 taking place in London on the 19-20 November. 

Article by Matt Harris
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