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Greek banks eye prosperous Cyprus market March 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Cyprus’s stable economic environment, accompanied by a strong growth rate of over 3.5 percent, growing mortgage demand and an increase in foreign deposits are the primary elements drawing the attention of Greek bankers who wish to enter the Cyprus market.

An Alpha Bank team is planning to visit Cyprus in the coming days for the opening of its new, privately owned building, and is expected to announce further plans to boost activities on the island. Last week, a National Bank delegation was also in Cyprus for business matters.

Greek banking groups are now renewing their interest in the Cyprus market, attracted by the large foreign deposits coming into the country, as well as by the momentum offered by business initiatives assisted by foreign funds. At present, Russia and Ukraine play a leading role in such business moves, facilitated by an especially favorable tax system. Other highly promising areas are the housing and real estate markets.

Significant aid to foreign companies wishing to operate in Cyprus is offered by a favorable tax system, which translates into corporate taxation of 10 percent, as well as the country’s double taxation avoidance agreements. The country’s admission into the eurozone is another positive aspect that comes into play.

Over the past two years, deposits in foreign exchange by non-EU residents rose as much as 59 percent to 18.5 billion, according to data from the Cyprus Central Bank. Bank officials explain that despite Cyprus’s limited population, interest from banks is high, considering the excellent potential for growth in both corporate and retail banking.

The dominance of local banks is not seen as obstructing the profitable operation of Greek banks. Alpha Bank’s Cyprus operations are its most profitable in SE Europe, allowing the Greek bank to plan an increase in the number of its branches from 35 to 50. In the Cyprus market, Alpha has a 9.6 percent share in loans and 6.6 percent in deposits.

Strong interest in the Cyprus market has also been also shown by Piraeus Bank, following its takeover of Arab Bank, which has been incorporated into the bank’s network and has plans to open another 10 branches. Piraeus group’s business plan forecasts an increase in loans from 30 million to 800 million, as well as a growth in deposits from 20 million to 1.5 billion.

National Bank, which already operates 15 branches in Cyprus, is highly active in business credit, with a 4 percent share of the specific segment. EFG Eurobank does more corporate banking and plans to establish three new business centers within 2008.

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A high-end sports village for Mazotos village in Cyprus March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Cyprus Limassol, Sports & Games, Tourism.
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A branded sports tourist village featuring 300 properties has been announced near the village of Mazotos. Located between Larnaca and Limassol, the name behind the development is ex-England and Davis cup Tennis player David Lloyd.

The development will be a self-contained village created in a traditional Cypriot style, while affording the luxury and convenience demanded by modern life. The focus will be on sport, particularly racquets, but also canoeing and football. With meandering cobbled streets and a selection of coffee shops, eateries and supermarkets sprinkled throughout the development, it promises to deliver a self-contained environment with its own unique ambience.

Properties will be either one bedroom or two bedroom apartments, split 20% to 80% respectively, and will make up the development. A beach is 300 meters away, a marina which is scheduled for expansion and plans for a theme park two kilometres away. A Four Seasons 5-star luxury hotel in the immediate area is also being built. A journey time of 25 minutes from Larnaca airport allows for easy access.

The village will also be a magnet for those interested in taking their sport seriously, with the climate providing ideal training conditions for professional and novice athletes alike. Consequently, the rental yield is likely to be very high. Commercially, the development already has an independent rental guarantee programme in place which operates on a sliding scale depending upon the level of personal usage the owner wishes to take. The minimum is five per cent although higher rates can be obtained. There is no compulsion to take the rental guarantee. Owners may wish to control this aspect themselves instead.

Overseas property specialists Thomson OPI have announced their involvement in the project which they claim will deliver all the attributes of an outstanding investment. Mike Thomson, Managing Partner at the firm said: “It is rare for all the variables in property investment to come together at the same time. With this project all of the critical elements of successful property investment are positive. With low or no entry deposits, no stage payments and a remarkable ten-year index linked rental guarantee scheme offering 6.25 per cent per annum it means that investors can access the Cyprus property market with security.”

According to its website, “Thomson OPI sets itself apart by specialising in pure investment properties. While this is the primary criteria, superb lifestyle purchases can also be excellent investments.” The company is inviting investors to register their interest early to obtain preferential options in the development.  “We offer to our clients our hand-picked properties which we ourselves have invested in,” Thomson explained. “This gives a measure of confidence to our clients that the appropriate due diligence has been completed. Additionally, we offer carefully selected opportunities through our partnership programmes.”

The likely financial structuring for acquisition in the development is consistent with Thomson OPI’s objective of delivering high capital growth opportunities whilst enabling easily affordable deposits payable over a long period of time. Sizes and prices are yet to be released, with completion scheduled for summer 2010.

According to the BuySell property index, 2007 saw prices increase by over 20 per cent, with the island set to enjoy continued double digit capital growth over the coming years. Key features of the development can be obtained by contacting Thomson OPI at: info@thomsonopi.com.

The project in summary > 
300 apartments, Sold fully furnished, Indoor and outdoor tennis, Full range of other sports activities, 300m to the beach and the marina, Water based activities, Concierge greeting service, Restaurants, bars, banqueting suite, Commercial Business Centre,
Supermarkets and shops, All year sunshine, PGA golf course 15 minutes away, Rental guarantee available (up to 10 years at a minimum of 6.25%), Low entry costs, 10% deposit with 5% upon delivery, Capital growth c. 12-15% per annum.

Athens third from last in European property potential list March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Living.
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Athens ranked among the last cities in Europe in a survey ranking real estate markets for both investment and development prospects, according to survey results made public yesterday.

The survey, put together by research group Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, ranked Athens in position No 25 out of a total of 27 cities reviewed.

The Greek capital was given a low score due to the difficulties encountered regarding the execution of large projects in the city, the lack of available land and “a growing trend by developers to look for property beyond Athens. Without question, Europe is facing a bumpier ride this year than the last few years,” said Richard Rosan, President of ULI Worldwide. “The fact that many respondents remain confident about European markets points to the still-local nature of real estate. We are seeing a lot of guarded optimism.”

The survey covers countries throughout Europe and is based on surveys and interviews with nearly 500 of the industry’s leading authorities. Moscow and Istanbul took first and second place, respectively.

Shipowners eye property ashore November 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Increasing investment moves by shipowners, including takeovers and plans for takeovers, tend to be regarded as opportunistic, rather than strategic, by the Greek domestic market.

With few exceptions, those shipowners who have in the past proven that “they are here to stay”, the specific industry is believed not to have any particular strategy but to be desperately in search of opportunities in which to place their capital due to the high liquidity produced by maritime operations in recent years.

“Scenarios that are being discussed on the market about shipowners entry into banking groups, for instance, should be treated as merely speculative and that is why they are not likely to be fruitful,” a telecoms market official, who recently had the experience of negotiations with a major shipping group wishing to enter the telecoms market, said. “It is no accident that a large portion of shipowners’ funds are invested in the real estate market, since it gives them security, wherever they hail from,” he added.

According to a major real estate firm, it has been recently calculated that about one  percent of Greek land has come under the control of shipping firms in recent years. The liquidity generated by maritime operations has been and still is of such volume that it necessarily had to be invested somewhere, somehow. However, new alternatives are now being sought, as it seems that conditions in the real estate market have changed. Such alternatives include the acquisition of large shares, but not majority shares, in listed companies of small and medium capitalization.

Shipowners “are often driven by instinct to such placements. Securing surplus returns is their primary target, and this no harm, since that is what all investors are after,” said a banking sector official who does business with shipping firms on a daily basis. The official added that since it is shipowners who now hold most of the cash, they are attracting all sorts of proposals. However, the official had his own reservations. “I don’t believe that a scenario of shipowners wishing to buy the majority shares of Geniki Bank is true. To run a bank, you need specialized management, and maritime businesses simply do not have it,” he said.

Babis Vovos agreement with Media Markt October 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Athens listed real estate firm Babis Vovos and the international retailing chain Media Markt yesterday agreed to sign two new lease agreements.

One for 10 years for 7,291 sq.m. of retail space and 1,772 sq.m. of storage space at the commercial center under construction at 340 Syngrou Avenue, and a second to extending an existing lease by Media Markt at 49 Kifissias Avenue, both in Athens.

Athens house prices in 29th place among 38 countries October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Living.
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Prices for residential properties in Greece are especially high, as many buyers find, and despite objections by contractors and developers, the general opinion held by the public cannot be doubted.

However, according to a recent survey by Global Property Guide (GPG), the average sale price in Athens is currently 2,244 euros per sq.m., which ranks Greece in 29th position among another 38 European nations.

By way of comparison, Monaco is the most expensive location to buy an apartment in Europe at 24,900 per sq.m., followed by London at 18,108 per sq.m. and Moscow at 11,500 per sq.m. At the other end of the ladder lies Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, at 902 per sq.m., the city of Skopje at 1,113 per sq.m. and Slovakia’s Bratislava at 1,292 per sq.m. [all prices quoted are in euros].

Considering such data, one could argue that apartments in Greece are cheap, compared to the rest of Europe. But this, factually, is an analysis that’s very far from reality.

The price of goods and apartments is certainly related to the buyer’s income. In GPG’s survey of annual per capita income, quoting data from the International Monetary Fund, Greece lies in 17th place among a total of 38 European countries.

The average income in Greece is estimated at US$21,925 and the average price of apartments at 2,244 per sq.m., compared to Luxembourg’s US$85,444 and 3,934 per sq.m., respectively. It is therefore quite clear that the price of apartments in Greece is not just dear but extremely expensive.

At the same time, however, when we compare nations with a similar per capita income, the Greek residential property market seems relatively cheap. In Spain, for instance, where the property market shares many characteristics with Greece, annual income is estimated at US$29,266, while the average apartment price per sq.m. in Madrid is 5,160, placing the Spanish capital in 10th position of the most expensive European capitals.

“Apartments in Greece are expensive”, says Nikos Hatzitsolis, of Axies valuation firm. “Prices could be much cheaper in relation to their current levels on account of the major drop in interest rates,” he added. A reason that makes home prices high in Greece is the large profit margin set by contractors. “The market is segmented and fully controlled by contractors,” said Hatzitsolis.

The recent drop in demand and higher supply logically should have led to a reduction in prices, even at the expense of contractors’ profits. However, according to Hatzitsolis, given that contractors are not burdened by heavy debts or borrowing, they are in a position to keep prices “locked” at high levels.