By Sharon Smyth
Greece is preparing a property portfolio valued at as much as 500 million euros ($689 million) to offer to investors by the end of this year, according to the head of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund.
The properties will be worth at least 350 million euros and will include leased city buildings, homes and development land, Andreas Taprantzis, executive director at the fund, said in an interview in Athens. UBS AG, Deutsche Bank AG and BNP Paribas SA are advising the fund on the portfolio, he said.
The fund, which completed almost 5 billion euros of deals including 1.8 billion euros of real estate over the past 14 months, is tapping into renewed investor demand for Greek assets. The nation is emerging from a six-year economic crisis that almost forced it to leave the euro.
“There has been a huge shift in sentiment and, after sniffing around for quite a while, investors are now anxious to dig up Greek opportunities,” Taprantzis said. “Look how stocks have performed.”
The Athens Stock Exchange General Index has jumped 175 percent since reaching a 22-year low in June 2012 and the economy is set to grow in 2014 for the first time in seven years. The country’s bonds returned 23 percent in the first quarter, the best among 34 sovereign-debt markets tracked by Bloomberg World Bond Indexes.
Greece is selling everything from land to ports and airports as part of a 240 billion-euro bailout from Europe and the IMF. The asset fund has a mandate to raise 11 billion euros by 2016. The original target after the first bailout in 2010 was for 50 billion euros by 2015.
“It is a buyers’ market, with low price levels that will allow for strong potential capital gains,” said Spyros Raptis, manager of valuations and planning at Athens-based real estate adviser Redvis. “The expected economic recovery and growing activity will definitely lift up real estate returns.”
Last month, the fund agreed to sell Hellenikon, a former airport site that’s almost twice the size of New York’s Central Park, to a group of investors led by Lamda Development for 915 million euros. In December, the fund and the National Bank of Greece SA accepted a 400 million-euro bid from the Jermyn Street Real Estate Fund IV for 90 percent of Astir Palace, a luxury seaside hotel complex in an Athens suburb.
Pangaea REIC, the real estate investment trust owned by Invel Real Estate Partners and the National Bank of Greece SA, aims to raise about 1 billion euros by the end of 2014 to invest in Greek and Italian real estate assets.
“Apart from privatization plans, we are identifying signs of a growing activity in the field of indirect real estate investments,” Raptis said, “The plans of Pangaea as well as other deals show that investors have started to consider their positions in the Greek market.”