Real Estate in Brief

Putin Considers Swiss Villa

President Vladimir Putin is considering buying a luxury home near Switzerland's Lake Neuchatel, Blick newspaper reported Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Putin has identified a villa near the village of Gletterens in the French-speaking part of the country, the newspaper said. Called "La Chatelaine," the property is located on 4.5 hectares and was built in the mid-1970s at a cost of about 26 million Swiss francs ($25 million), Blick reported.

The transaction is being conducted by relatives of the president and a Swiss bank, neither of whom were identified, and viewings of the property have already taken place, Blick reported. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the report. (Bloomberg)

RTM to Spend $15Bln

Property company RTM Development plans to sell shares to help fund $15 billion of planned projects across the country, CEO Eduard Vyrypayev said, Vedomosti reported Monday.

The Moscow-based company plans to build 10 "multifunctional" living and commercial complexes for $200 million each and 10 "comprehensive" developments for $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion each within six or seven years, Vyrypayev said, the newspaper reported.

RTM plans to sell 88 million shares for $2.05 each within three months, Vedomosti said. The rest of the funds will come from the company's own cash flow, strategic partners including Austria's Immoeast, and bank loans. (Bloomberg)

Apartment Purchases Slump

Rising prices for Moscow real estate have taken a toll on buyers, who purchased 50 percent fewer apartments in the first quarter of 2008 than they did in the fourth quarter of 2007, Vedomosti reported Monday, citing figures from the local branch of the Federal Registration Service.

A total of 11,779 purchases were registered with the service last quarter, the newspaper said, after 26,264 apartments were sold in the final quarter of 2007. The figure also represented a 39 percent drop from the first quarter of 2007, the newspaper reported. (MT)

St. Pete Tower Contract

ST. PETERSBURG -- Arabtec Holding, the company erecting the world's tallest building in Dubai, won a contract to build the 60 billion ruble ($2.54 billion) headquarters of Gazprom Neft in St. Petersburg.

Arabtec will build the first stage of the planned complex, known as the Okhta Center, which includes a tower that will be about 400 meters tall, Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Gazprom, said last week in a statement.

The skyscraper will include office space as well as entertainment facilities, restaurants and a library, the statement said. Gazprom Neft is funding 51 percent of the project, while the rest is financed from the city budget in exchange for a 49 percent stake. (Bloomberg)

Miel's Property Services

Real estate agency Miel announced in a press release last week that it was launching a service to manage real estate properties abroad, as investors seek to invest in properties abroad.

The services, called Distant Property Management, will be offered in Russia and abroad, and will include investment consulting, broker services and management of properties, the statement said. The services will be offered individually and as a package. (MT)

Sistema-Hals Profit Falls

Sistema-Hals, billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's property unit, said Monday that profit declined 38 percent last year after it gave shares to management.

Net income fell to $34.7 million from $55.6 million in 2006, the company said in a statement. Revenue surged 60 percent to $452.2 million.

Sistema-Hals' financial performance will improve as new projects are completed and start generating revenue, CEO Felix Yevtushenkov said. The $360 million reconstruction of the Peking Hotel in central Moscow will start this year and take 3 1/2 years to complete, said Yevtushenkov, Vladimir's son. (Bloomberg)

Turkish Cement Deal

ISTANBUL -- Cimentas Izmir Cimento Fabrikasi TAS, a Turkish cement producer, said Monday that it bought a company in Russia for 3 million rubles ($127,000).

The Russian unit is registered to produce cement and concrete, and does not own any factories, Cimentas said Monday in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange. (Bloomberg)

Strabag's $4.7Bln in Orders

Strabag, an Austrian builder part-owned by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, will have 3 billion euros ($4.7 billion) of orders in Russia by the end of the year, said Douglas Lund, head of the construction unit of Deripaska's Basic Element holding company, Interfax reported Friday.

Strabag on Friday won a contract worth 60 million euros ($94 million) to finish construction of the Sochi international airport, which Deripaska owns, Lund said, Interfax reported. (Bloomberg)

Immoeast-RTM Venture

Immoeast, Austria's largest developer, said last week that it would set up a joint venture with RTM Development, a Moscow-based developer and operator of shopping malls, to spend at least $150 million on Russian property.

RTM and Immoeast plan to create the venture in the second quarter, the RTM said. Under the agreement, Immoeast extended a $15 million bridge loan to RTM, the company said in a statement. (Bloomberg)

Morgan Stanley Fund

LONDON -- Morgan Stanley Real Estate kickstarted a hunt for value in discounted and fledgling global property markets on Thursday after raising $2.5 billion of new equity for its flagship property opportunities fund.

The open-ended Special Situations Fund III, which invests in property stocks, real estate debt, income-producing properties and development, raised the equity from institutional and private investors keen to increase exposure to the fund's key target economies of China, India, Russia, Poland, Mexico and Brazil. (Reuters)

Meinl Europe Q4 Loss

Austrian developer Meinl European Land said Thursday that it made a fourth-quarter loss as gains in the value of its assets slowed.

The pretax loss was 1.8 million euros, compared with a profit of 74.3 million euros a year earlier, according to the company's annual results. Bloomberg calculated the loss by subtracting nine-month profit from the full-year results.

Meinl is focusing on Russia, Poland and Turkey, where the company will open its first shopping center later this year. (Bloomberg)