Jean - Louis Loeb - Picard
A familly history in real estate
One familly : 300 years of real estate history
It was Jean-Louis’ grandfather, a Swiss architect, who in 1913 started building and investing in commercial properties in city centres, in both France and Switzerland.
Before him, for the past 12 generations, historical documents provide evidence of three centuries of involvement of the family in activities as diverse as the construction of a military fort (1692) for the king of France, of a private watermill for the family (1739) or the acquisition and farming of vineyards (1740) and the creation and construction of the very first mill and hammers for ironworks in France (1751).
1692: First real estate operation: construction of a military fort
Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard’s ancestors participated in the construction of a military fort for King Louis XIV, known to the French as “the Great King”, who built the Palace of Versailles.
In exchange, they were appointed suppliers to the King’s armies, which they continued to do, among other things, under six kings and two emperors for several centuries. These were large contracts and when Jacques, one of the forefathers of Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard, died during the reign of King Louis-Philippe, the State owed him the equivalent of five thousand horses.
1690: The family vineyards
Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard’s family have owned wineries for more than three centuries. In viticulture, the oldest known family act is the sale of two vineyards on 18 May 1740, 275 years ago, for 89 Alsatian golden: 35 paid in cash, with the balance to be paid on 24 June the following year.
We do not know exactly when the vineyards were bought but it is likely to be over three hundred years ago. The family has always considered this the noblest of its activities. Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard has continued this family tradition, albeit in a small way.
1692: Trading land
For 323 years, the family of Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard has purchased agricultural property, land and real estate for exploitation and resale, this being the most perennial of its businesses.
An early example of this activity is a deed of succession in the family, drafted during the reign of King Louis-Philippe by the royal notary Charles-Henry Cunier. Each line of this 120-page deed records a debt, a piece of land or real estate. This document is kept in the National Archives.
8 July 1739 : First family watermill
On July 8, 1739, the patriarch of the Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard family acquired the first watermill with his wife Dienam-Jonus for 89 Alsatian golden[JM1] . For over two centuries, the family acquired or built watermills, hydropower being at the time the only source of energy for cottage industries: wood, paper, flour, iron and dyer’s madder.
Most of the family’s watermills were located along the Schwarzbach river flowing in the Jaeger Valley (Alsatian: Jaegerthal).
22 November 1749 : dyer's madder
By a patent signed at Versailles on 22 November 1749, King Louis XV granted the family a monopoly on the madder industry (mills, factories, warehouses) in Hanau-Lichtenberg County. At the time, Alsace produced the bulk of this important dye plant, which was used to dye the trousers of French soldiers in their iconic red.
22 April 1751 : the first smithy
Not far from the Jaeger Valley and its watermills stood the first family forge, acquired on 22 April 1751.
It was located in Zinswiller on the Zinsel River. This area, near Luxembourg and Saarland, was the cradle of the European steel industry.
The family of Jean-Louis Loeb Picard owned a number of forests. This was crucial to the running of forges, given that 20 cubic metres of wood had to be burnt to produce an ingot of fifty kilograms of iron.
The king of France granted the authorisation of Master Smithy only to owners of considerable forest and mineral resources. Since the family had a monopoly on the iron trade in Hanau-Lichtenberg County, it met those requirements.
1913 - 1960 : Edmond Picard: the first buildings in the city center
Born in the canton of Bern in Switzerland, Edmond Picard, grandfather of Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard, built the family’s first office and commercial buildings in the city centre.
Edmond Picard, son of a Swiss property trader, was a Swiss architect, a graduate of the Zurich Polytechnic who won many prizes and held prestigious positions: the Grand Prix of the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition; Grand Prix of the Liège Exhibition in 1930; Grand Prix gold medal of the London Exhibition in 1932; Gold Medal of the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937; winner of the Craft Competition in Paris in 1937; winner of the Paris Study and Coordination Group for Underground City-Planning prize; Treasurer of the Union of Architects; Secretary and Treasurer of the Union of Expert Architects attached to the Courts; and member and Treasurer of the Academy of Alsace.
A Swiss officer close to General Henri Guisan, as far back as the 1930s Edmond Picard had designed one of the first underground structures for mixed military and civilian use: underground shelters in times of war and car parks in peacetime.
Both in Switzerland and in France, he built many office and residential buildings, grand hotels, mansions, hospitals, defence works, barracks and factories. He generously rebuilt temples and churches damaged or destroyed by war. He loved to discuss the acoustics of such temples and churches with Dr Albert Schweitzer, a talented organist.
Edmond Picard participated, sadly twice, in the reconstruction of an Alsace ravaged by two world wars.
Since 1974 : Jean-louis Loeb-Picard
At the age of 24, whilst still a student, he acquired his first building, comprising ten apartments, in Paris. He convinced "Societe Generale" to finance the operation. The year is 1974.
The following deal (acting as an intermediary in the sale of two prestigious buildings next to the Champs-Elysees), which arose thanks to a casual encounter at an embassy reception, brought in a huge commission and cash-flow for the young entrepreneur and his company.
Several acquisitions of historical buildings in Paris, bought with the intention of a quick resale and gain were to follow. The real estate market in Paris was trending upwards and the profits were more than healthy.
That was an invitation to reflect on a strategy for the future: how to stay in the business as a major player and how to expand. The outcome of this reflection was to adopt new principles for the future: either to build from scratch or to refurbish properties in upcoming areas substantially, and renting these properties over the longer term.
In France, the most attractive tenant is represented in the government and its agencies, which together represent a very large player in the rental market. The government is also a major shareholder in many public companies which participate as long-term renters.
These new buildings were predominantly occupied by the government at competitive rates, however, despite the rates; there was a guarantee of a very successful relationship, with long-term rents paid on time.
In financial terms, these rental-buildings, comprised of a total of 5 million square feet, could be considered and evaluated like long-term government-bonds.
Some of these building were sold after 25 years of ownership, bringing the company a cash flow of severally hundred million Euros; cash which is today ready to be reinvested.
The objectives for the near future are to diversify more and more geographically: the UK, USA and Canada are on top of the list with a priority of acquiring landmark buildings in prime locations, which easy to manage and with few tenants.
Target value per building: 20-100 million Euros.
A few figures, spanning 45 years:
Five million square feet built by Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard.
The average area developed for each building constructed is c. 250,000 square feet (including 200 to 300 parking spaces).
The average value of each building is c. 100 million US Dollars.
The majority of these buildings have been leased or sold to the French Government (including the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of the Interior and the Army) or to companies owned in whole or in part by the French Government (Orange, French Post, AFP, etc.).
The remainder were leased to some of the largest French and foreign listed companies such as L’Oréal, Habitat, FNAC, ITT, Alcatel-Lucent, Lufthansa, Thales, Allianz, Generali, Havas, etc.
Today, Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard is assisted by his son Edward (political science graduate of the University of the Sorbonne). This means that it is more than a century (from 1913) since the family of Jean-Louis Loeb-Picard became involved in commercial real estate and office space in city centres.
Edward represents the fourth generation to be interested in real estate in city centres.