Signa’s Lofty Property Valuations Point to Brutal Pain to Come

(Bloomberg) -- The Upper West high-rise overlooking Berlin’s bustling Kurfürstendamm shopping boulevard is one of many glittering trophies in the portfolio of Rene Benko’s collapsing Signa, but its robust valuation reflects how much pain is in store in the cleanup of the real estate empire.

Despite turmoil triggered by the end of the cheap-money era, the 35-story tower was still valued at more than €700 million ($760 million) at the end of last year, according to a report prepared by broker Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. in April and seen by Bloomberg News. That’s a whopping 45 times the building’s rent, when multiples in the 20s are now more typical.

“An up-to-date valuation for Signa would very likely produce a fall of around a third,” said Peter Papadakos, head of European research at Green Street’.

Differences between book values and what buyers are actually willing to pay are of little issue in a booming market. But with a queue of creditors desperate to get their money back, forced sales by Signa are a possibility, and the reality check could put some loans at risk and have widespread implications as deals reset the broader market.