Weerts Group in major 50/50 joint-venture with Ethias for logistics real estate development

Tim Harrup

Logistics is always a cornerstone of all economic activity, and has been one of the rare segments to emerge stronger from the current crisis and to benefit from the growth of e-commerce. There is therefore a great deal of logic behind an agreement between an investor (insurance company Ethias) and a logistics developer (Weerts Group).

Ethias, just a hundred years old since being founded under the name of SMAP, was an exclusively mutual company until 2008 when it changed its structure to become a limited company. This followed its opening out from the public sector and public enterprises to the public at large and private companies in 2000.

The Weerts Group, for its part, is based in Liège and is a family company. It is active in logistics, real estate and motor sport, with logistics being its largest division in terms of turnover and employment. The company is active in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary, Romania and the United Kingdom.
The agreement between the two enterprises sees a 50/50 joint venture being created in order to establish a pan-European logistics portfolio.

Through this JV, Ethias will systematically acquire 50% of all the logistics properties create and rented by Weerts. Ethias states that it has set aside an investment budget of 160 million Euros. This figure, taking account of the fact that it represents 50% of the investment of the JV, would suggest an initial portfolio extending to around 700,000 m² of logistics space. The operational side of the portfolio will naturally be in the hands of Weerts, highly experienced in this domain.

Mutual interest

The principal interest for Ethias will be that it is guaranteed long term revenues from the letting of the sites. The nature of the logistics market is also such that these revenues are stable, and in Belgium at least they will be indexed against inflation. The geographical diversity of the sites, the sustainable character of the buildings constructed by Weerts, and the emphasis on high quality tenants, are further factors in favour of the investment being made by Ethias.

Where Weerts is concerned, the fact that it is only going to be required to finance 50% of its new operations means that cash is available for other activities and for arising needs. Weerts also has the benefit of a solid and reliable partner. Both companies are active at local levels and creators of local employment. And both companies wish to respond to the objectives of the European Green Deal.


Turning to one of the sites to form part of this agreement, the multi-modal Trilogiport hub at Oupeye, just to the north of Liège and located on the Meuse, will host an initial component. It is indeed one of the 15 industrial buildings (over 7 sites) which will be included. In detail,Weerts Group is currently completing the construction of a multimodal 90,000 m² logistics hub here, with the project name ‘Weerts Logistic Park III’. It consists of a fully automated cold storage area of 20,000 m² and standard storage areas of 70,000 m². The site is fully let to Weerts Supply Chain. Within this site, 40,000 m² has just been completed and 30,000 m² will be completed in mid-2021. Along with their frozen and standard storage capacities, the buildings include offices and social areas (including reception areas, meeting rooms, etc.). Solar panels will produce electricity in excess of the needs of Weerts on the site.

The strategic importance of Trilogiport, the largest logistics hub in Belgium, is easy to understand. It is located on a concession site of the Liège Autonomous Port and provides access to three sea ports (Antwerp, Rotterdam and Dunkirk), via three modes of transport (water, rail and motorway). Remaining with the number ‘3’ there are also three countries within close proximity (the Netherlands, Germany and France). The site is located very close to the A25, E313 and E42 motorways, and just 20 km from Liège airport, which just three weeks ago was voted ‘Best Cargo Airport in The World’ by Air Cargo News Awards.


The CEO’s of the two enterprises concerned are clearly enthusiastic about their new deal: “Weerts Group spoke to various international players in order to find an ideal partner for this JV. And this partner was found with Ethias” (Pascal Weerts, CEO of Weerts Group). “This JV above all enables Ethias to continue with the diversification of its real estate portfolio. But also to breathe new optimism and dynamism into the Belgian economy which is suffering enormously from the current crisis” (Philippe Lallemand, CEO of Ethias).