Real Estate in Brief

Raven's $170M VTB Loan



Raven Russia, a British property firm focused on warehouses in Russia, said Friday that it had signed a $170 million loan agreement with VTB Bank Europe to finance a logistics project in southwestern Russia.

Raven Russia, which is listed on London's AIM market, said in a statement that its Megalogix warehouse joint venture would use $100 million to fund the first phase of a 200,000-square-meter project in the Rostov region.

The venture also has an option of an uncommitted $70 million to fund the second phase of the project. The seven-year facility has an interest cost of less than 7 percent, the firm said.

VTB Bank Europe is a London unit of Russia's second-largest bank, state-controlled VTB. (Reuters)




PIK Opens Unit in Ukraine



PIK Group, the developer that held Europe's largest public offering in the industry last year, said Tuesday that it set up a unit in Ukraine as it seeks to expand in the former Soviet Union.

The developer will pursue Ukraine projects through its new unit in Kiev, Moscow-based PIK said in an e-mailed statement. It also set up a company in St. Petersburg, the statement said. (Bloomberg)




Dubai World Eyeing Russia



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Investment group Dubai World said Thursday that it was exploring opportunities in Russia's maritime, logistics and rail sectors.

The state-owned firm and its units have been upping their presence in Russia over the last few months as Dubai World seeks to tap into Europe's most populous country.

Dubai World's port and free zone subsidiary has signed an agreement with Russian Railways to study the development of supply chain infrastructure in Russia, Dubai World said. Limitless, one of its real estate units, in February agreed to build a new city near Moscow.

"Dubai World has recently been exploring major investment possibilities in marine terminals, logistics and rail transport with Russian partners," it said after concluding meetings with a Russian delegation. (Reuters)




New Ministry Housing Plan



The Regional Development Ministry is planning to increase the number of people not needing improved housing conditions to 60 percent by 2020, from 17 percent to 19 percent currently, RIA-Novosti reported Friday.

Dmitry Yakimchuk, head of the ministry department working on the national project to improve housing, said the long-term plan was still being considered in the ministry, the news agency reported.

The overall volume of housing units should reach 64 million in the next twelve years, up from the current 60 million, and provide a total of 4.1 billion square meters of space, compared with 3 billion square meters now, Yakimchuk said, RIA-Novosti reported. The average apartment size would increase to 64 square meters from 51 square meters now, he said. (MT)




ECM to Invest $458M in '08



PRAGUE -- ECM Real Estate Investments, the developer of the tallest building in the Czech Republic, said Thursday that it wanted to invest 290 million euros ($458 million) on new projects by the end of 2008.

ECM already has committed about 510 million euros of 800 million euros that it said last July it would use to expand, said Jiri Kasek, head of investor relations.

The company is considering selling three completed and leased projects to fund expansion because of the scarcity of credit on global markets, ECM chief financial officer Jana Zejdlikova said at a news conference in Prague on Thursday. (Bloomberg)




Kazakh Bank Hires Auditor



ALMATY, Kazakhstan --Kazkommertsbank, Kazakhstan's biggest bank by assets, hired Bureau Veritas to audit stalled projects undertaken by one of the country's largest construction companies.

"The increasing risks of lending to the construction industry have compelled the bank to improve its ability to ensure the proper use of money received from the government's emergency investment program," the lender said Monday.

Kazkommertsbank agreed with builder Corporation Kuat to hire Bureau Veritas, the world's second-largest goods-inspection company, as an "independent technical auditor for completion of residential projects in Astana," the bank said. (Bloomberg)




LSR Concrete Buy Approved



ST. PETERSBURG -- LSR Group, a property developer and building-materials maker that raised $772 million selling shares in November, said Friday that it received Ukrainian approval to buy the Obukhiv concrete plant for 30 million euros ($47 million).

LSR will acquire 97 percent of aerated concrete maker, St. Petersburg-based LSR said in a statement. The purchase is LSR's second of a Ukrainian aerated concrete producer and will probably be completed in the second quarter.

"We consider the Ukrainian market to be very attractive due to the steady growth in the volumes of construction and building materials consumption as well as the dynamics of housing price growth," chief executive Igor Levit said. (Bloomberg)




Polnord Sees Profit Rising



WARSAW -- Polish builder Polnord expects its operating profit to surpass 200 million zlotys ($89 million) this year as its revenue pushes beyond 1 billion zlotys thanks to diverse projects, its chief executive said in an interview published Monday.

Polnord, controlled by Polish tycoon Ryszard Krauze, has been expanding rapidly, taking advantage of the construction boom in Poland and the rest of the region.

"This year, [revenue] will surpass 1 billion zlotys. In 2009, about 2 billion zlotys," chief executive Wojciech Ciurzynski told Rzeczpospolita daily. (Reuters)




Orco '07 Profit Down 9.5%



PRAGUE -- Orco Property Group, a real estate developer that operates in Central and Eastern Europe, said Thursday that 2007 profit declined 9.5 percent as interest costs more than doubled.

Net income fell to 87.5 million euros ($138.2 million) from 96.7 million euros in 2006 and short of the of the 115.7 million euro median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of five analysts, the company said in a statement on its web site, without giving earnings per share. Interest expenses surged to 66.3 million euros from 18.1 million in 2006.

Orco said earnings before interest and taxes rose 32 percent to 177.1 million euros, from 134 million euros the year before and compared with 183.9 million euros predicted. (Bloomberg)