ECONOMY

Foreign property investors

Although the acquisition of the Village Park entertainment and shopping complex in the Athens district of Rendi by British company Pradera about a year ago has not been followed by any other similar deals involving foreign property investment funds in Greece, real estate market players say it is only a matter of time before renewed interest is manifested. Any developments in this field are seen as likely to be directly influenced by progress in the tax reform for real estate, which is widely anticipated in the form of the introduction of a single tax to replace a multitude of others currently in force. Property investment funds with an interest in Greece are focusing on buildings for professional uses, mainly luxury office space in prestigious areas. There is almost no interest in housing development schemes or storage facilities. Office buildings are items directly comparable with similar ones abroad, particularly after the introduction of the euro. Most of those showing a strong interest in Greek real estate belong to groups of insurance companies, pension funds and real estate development firms. They include Pricoa, HRO, the insurance American International Group (AIG), Grosvenor Real Estate and Standard Life. Market players also await the activation of ING Real Estate, the Dutch giant which is to collaborate with Piraeus Bank in the framework of the broader partnership of the two groups. Pricoa is a UK-based member of the American Prudential insurance group and specializes in fund management; its office holdings represent 23.5 percent of its portfolio. AIG was recently very near an agreement with the Athens bourse-listed Babis Vovos real estate firm for the purchase of an expensive office building on Athens’s Kifissias Avenue, but the deal fell through. HRO is a French firm looking for a local partner to buy office complexes totaling more than 20,000 square meters. Grosvenor, finally, is interested in offices and shopping malls. «On the external wall of the chamber is a large relief, with a band of imitation marble facing on its base, surmounted by floral decoration.»