Axa , one of Europe's largest insurers, has raised a fund that will invest up to 2.5 billion euros ($3.18 billion) towards the development of offices and shopping centres across the continent, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The real estate arm of the French insurer, which raised 585.5 million euros largely from pension and insurance funds, is aiming to exploit the gap left by the retreat of banks and other debt providers from property lending since the crash, the FT said.

Head of opportunistic funds at Axa Real Estate Laurent Vouin said the group would work either alone or as part of a joint venture to secure development opportunities in the UK, France and Germany, according to the report.

Axa was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)