The diversification principle also rules in the property sector. Just like shares, real estate investments are supposed to protect the investment against inflation risks. At the same time, the income from rents is a major component for earning current income and making funds available for research.
Both aspects contribute to the important role played by real estate within the framework of the overall portfolio. In June 2018, the real estate assets managed by the Foundation amounted to a total value of 493 million euros – with a share in total assets of some 12 per cent.
Within the real estate sector, the diversification of risks is achieved through a broad geographical spread of the investments. The historically grown focus of these investments lies within Germany. The German properties are held via subsidiary companies that are externally administered and that are supported and controlled by the Foundation. The properties in question are residential and office buildings located all over Germany. These are supplemented by two office buildings that have been let to scientific institutions in London and Washington and that are also owned by subsidiary companies of the Volkswagen Foundation. Also provided by a subsidiary was the reconstruction of the Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover. The palace is leased to external operators as a museum and as a conference centre.
The European real estate investments are concentrated in the Foundation's special fund. The investments of the fund – exclusively in office buildings – have so far been spread over France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain.