Originally published in BR’s Real Estate Guide: Major Insights into the Romanian Real Estate Market in 2021
Didier Balcaen, CEO of Speedwell
Didier Balcaen was at the helm of Speedwell, with a strong development pipeline in Bucharest and regional cities. The company delivers a mixed project including apartments, office and residential spaces in Cluj-Napoca, and he is working on office and residential developments in Bucharest with completion dates starting this year. Meanwhile, Speedwell will begin sales of a new mixed-use project in Timisoara.
Balcaen is a strong supporter of sustainability and believes in the power of real estate to regenerate urban areas. This is why two of the company’s major projects will revive the urban areas of western Romania. All of Speedwell’s projects are oriented towards transit-oriented development (TOD). For employees, residents and buyers, this means that a mix of real estate assets in the same area will help them save time and enjoy their time in the city. Balcaen is also venturing into the warehousing segment, positioning Speedwell to be competitive in all real estate segments.
Victor Capitanu & Andrei Diaconescu, co-founders and co-CEO of One United Properties
An initial public offering (IPO) by a Romanian developer had not been seen on the Bucharest Stock Exchange for years; that was until Victor Capitanu and Andrei Diaconescu stepped up their game and decided it was time for One United Properties to go public. The company they co-founded raised over 50 million euros during the IPO and achieved a market capitalization of over 580 million euros. The additional funds have come at the right time for the company, which has ongoing investments in residences, offices and mixed uses in Bucharest. One United Properties has seized key land in the Romanian capital in deals reaching tens of millions of euros to pave the way for a new wave of luxury developments.
Capitanu and Diaconescu have been investing in real estate since 2000, but they gained notoriety after launching the ONE brand in 2013. Before going public, they sold a minority stake in One United Properties to Daniel Dines, the entrepreneur. richest Romanian.
Fulga Dinu, Country Manager Operations at Immofinanz Romania
Concluding large transactions and upgrading real estate assets are two objectives that stand out on Fulga Dinu’s agenda for this year. The real estate group has signed a huge 25-year lease agreement for one of its office buildings north of Bucharest. Reflecting the evolution of market trends, the new tenant is developing healthcare activities.
Dinu says this deal is a very good sign as it balances Immofinanz’s portfolio and adds value to the services it already provides to clients. In the center of Bucharest, Immofinanz took over the Bucharest Financial Plaza office building for 36 million euros. The office project will adopt the myhive office concept, worn by Dinu since she started coordinating the group’s local operations.
Besides offices, Immofinanz is also investing in the retail segment to improve the shopping experience of Romanians. By the end of this year, the company will complete the renovation of VIVO! Baia Mare.
Yitzhak Hagag, co-founder and shareholder of Hagag Development Europe
Yitzhak Hagag is always up for a new challenge, and he has found one in the center of Bucharest. As co-founder and shareholder of Hagag Development Europe, he leads the company’s ongoing projects in the Romanian capital. Hagag is purchasing iconic buildings on the city’s famous Calea Victoriei and investing in their complete refurbishment to meet the demands of sophisticated residents and businesses looking to lease quality office space.
The company says that the renewal, revival and rehabilitation of downtown Bucharest and its heritage buildings is its real mission, and further transactions may follow in this area. Meanwhile, Hagag is also working on a large residential complex in the north of Bucharest. With Yitzhak Hagag in a managerial position, the company has invested more than 200 million euros in Bucharest. With enough financial strength and patience, Hagag is one of the few real estate players in Romania to have taken on the challenge of restoring historic buildings for the benefit of the community.
Doron Klein, CEO of AFI Europe Romania and Czech Republic
Doron Klein closed one of the largest office transactions in Romania when AFI Europe Romania paid around € 300 million for the NEPI Rockcastle office portfolio. The deal was made during the difficult year 2020 and had a market displacement effect, sending the commercial real estate sector to around 900 million euros in total investments last year.
As CEO of AFI Europe Romania and Czech Republic, Klein manages a complex portfolio of commercial, residential and office projects in Bucharest and regional cities. This year the company will focus on the modernization of the newly acquired buildings and continue the development of its office park near the center of Bucharest. It will also invest in a new shopping mall near its residential complex in Bucurestii Noi with the aim of adding new facilities for residents.
With retail space of around 170,000 m² and more than 300,000 m² of offices, AFI Europe Romania remains in investment mode and is currently looking for new opportunities in the market.
Antoniu Panait, Managing Director of Vastint Romania
Originally from Bucharest, Antoniu Panait always wanted a chance to contribute to the development of the city, and in his role at Vastint Romania, he worked on his dream of making Timpuri Noi one of the main urban hubs of Bucharest. The company already has more than 50,000 m² of office and retail space in this district and is preparing for the second phase of development. From the start, Vastint wanted green buildings that would save energy and meet the sustainability goals of large multinational tenants.
The Timpuri Noi project will also have a residential component, although it is still unclear when this development will begin. Long before the housing market started to explode, Vastint secured 48 hectares of land in northern Bucharest for a mixed-use project, with a major residential component.
The company rose to the challenge of developing mixed-use projects, where timing is key. However, sustainability seems to be the common denominator of all of its investments with long-term impact.
Sinziana Pardhan, Managing Director of P3 Romania
In the pandemic economy, business growth has been the name of the game for Sinziana Pardhan. Industrial and logistics developer P3 focused on adding facilities to its park west of Bucharest, which has a total leasable area of 380,000 m² divided into 14 warehouses.
In the first quarter of 2021, P3 Logistics Parks closed transactions for more than 35,800 m² of logistics and office space, of which almost 40% were new contracts, while the rest were extensions of existing contracts. The strong demand for warehouses since the start of the health crisis has enabled P3 to retain all of its tenants.
By investing in resource management technologies and charging stations for electric cars, Pardhan’s strategic mission is to manage P3’s transition to a carbon-free economy. The executive says sustainability is part of the company’s long-term vision and the whole team believes it will pay off.
Dimitris Raptis, CEO of Globalworth Group
At the head of the largest owner of office buildings in Romania, Dimitris Raptis handles various requests from a complex mix of tenants. As CEO of Globalworth Group, Raptis oversees the difficult process of keeping employees safe as they gradually return to the office.
With a Romanian portfolio of more than 1.4 billion euros, of which 81% in offices and the rest in industrial projects, Raptis manages two segments with different development dynamics. The company maintained the occupancy rate of its local projects at 92% and invested in equipment to meet new health and safety protocols.
In the meantime, Raptis is also looking to increase Globalworth’s footprint in the industrial and logistics sector, which has seen higher demand during the pandemic. Alongside Global Vision, Globalworth is developing more than 540,000 m² in a mixed-use project with a strong logistics component in Constanta, as well as another industrial project near Bucharest.
Constantin Sebesanu, CEO of Impact Developer & Contractor
Investment has been the driving force behind Impact Developer & Contractor since Constantin Sebesanu was appointed CEO earlier this year. It took the reins during one of the best times in the residential sector in years, with high demand across the board. However, Sebesanu needs to make sure that the costs don’t get out of hand, as the prices of building materials have skyrocketed over the past year.
Impact is currently developing two residential projects in Bucharest and one in Constanta. The company ventured further into the country and acquired land for its first housing project in Iasi.
Sebesanu implements the developer’s strategy of creating sustainable residential projects. While the Near-Zero Energy Building (NZEB) regulation was introduced in Romania earlier this year, the company is investing in technologies that will help residents consume fewer resources in the long run and become more dependent on renewable energy. At the same time, Impact has invested in new facilities for its community of over 6,000 inhabitants north of Bucharest.
Liviu Tudor, founder of Genesis Property
As Romania’s largest owner of office buildings, Liviu Tudor spotted an opportunity in the pandemic economy. He believes that the health of real estate projects will become a critical demand for doing business in the commercial market. His company Genesis Property has implemented a new standard that helps homeowners prepare for an adequate response in the event of a pandemic or other health related incident.
Tudor intends to move its mainstream forward, but it is also looking to adapt its real estate portfolio to changes in demand. He announced that his office project in northern Bucharest would be transformed into a mixed-use project. An existing building will be converted into living quarters to reflect the future of work and life. The diversification strategy is already visible in the office project developed by Tudor west of Bucharest. Before the onset of the health crisis, he had already added a private residential campus and a hotel within the office project, which covers 75,000 m².