Dutch real estate company buys half of Romanian mall network

Romanian developer Iulius Group, owned by local investor Iulian Dascalu, and Atterbury Europe, a real estate investment company registered in the Netherlands controlled by South African investors, have set up a joint financial fund with equal participation shares (50/50) for the development of the mixed use project Openville Timisoara and of other future projects.

Under the new partnership Atterbury Europe will also own 50% of the shares in Iulius Mall Iaşi, Iulius Mall Timişoara, Iulius Mall Cluj, and Iulius Mall Suceava. The financial termss of this deal haven’t been made public.

Atterbury Europe is a European real estate investment company focused on co-investing with local partners who are leaders in their markets, and with access to a development pipeline that can be accelerated. Romania is Atterbury Europe’s third investment location after acquisitions in Serbia and Cyprus.

The portfolio of the Romanian developer will continue to be managed by the same team.

Iulius Group has an operational portfolio of more than 260,000 sqm of retail space, and 106,000 sqm of office space. It developed the Iulius Mall country-wide network of four regional shopping malls in Iaşi, Timişoara, Cluj-Napoca, and Suceava, and the urban mixed use project Palas Iaşi. In the office segment, Iulius is one of the largest local developers and operators of office space, with nine A-class buildings integrated in mixed use projects, under the United Business Center brand.

Iulius is currently developing the Openville project close to Iulius Mall Timişoara. It is the second mixed use project in the company’s portfolio, after Palas Iaşi. Openville is meant to be the largest business, shopping and entertainment center in Western Romania. It combines more than 130,000 sqm of office premises in seven office buildings, 131,000 retail sqm, more than 450 stores, restaurants and themed cafés, a multiplex cinema, a fresh market area and four events halls. It will also have the largest suspended park in Romania, a green space spanning on over 55,000 sqm, and 4,050 underground and multi-level parking spaces.

Atterbury Europe is jointly owned by South Africa private equity investors Atterbury Property Holdings and Steinhoff International Holdings, through its subsidiary Hemisphere International Properties. Atterbury Property Holdings developed more than 1.5 million sqm of commercial, retail and residential properties, and the property management division manages more than 800,000 leasable sqm.

It 2014, Atterbury Property Holdings decided to co-invest with Steinhoff International in Atterbury Europe to focus on shopping center investments and retail development opportunities, particularly in the eastern European region. It is present in Cyprus, Serbia, and now Romania.

Steinhoff International is an integrated retailer that retails, sources, and manufactures household goods and general merchandise in the United Kingdom, Europe, the USA, Africa and Australasia. Its property portfolio is a strategic component in securing a relevant infrastructure and store network for its integrated retail businesses.

“During the last 17 years, Iulius has dedicated its efforts to achieving landmark regional projects for the sustainable development of communities, and the agreement with Atterbury Europe holds a significant role in the acceleration of this strategy. Our joint venture combines the know-how and dominant position we hold in the Romanian market, with the financial strength and experience in property management of this prestigious international group,” said Iulian Dascălu, the president of Iulius company.

“Atterbury Europe’s investment strategy is to invest alongside the “best of breed” in the countries we choose to invest in. We are delighted that our presence in Europe together with our South African ties have led to the joint venture with the Iulius Group in Romania”,  said Henk Deist, CEO of Atterbury Europe.

The biggest mall owner in Romania is also South African, the investment fund NEPI. Its biggest local investments include the Mega Mall in Bucharest, a greenfield investment worth EUR 165 million, and Promenada mall, which NEPI purchased in 2015 for EUR 148 million. The fund’s net assets totaled EUR 1.76 billion at the end of September 2016.

Romanian real estate investor starts EUR 220 mln mixed real estate project in Timisoara

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