Investor interest in the SEE property markets is returning despite an almost total absence of liquidity, was the overriding opinion among nearly 150 of the emerging Europe property arena's most influential executives gathered at the exquisite Regent Esplanade hotel in Zagreb, Croatia on November 4.
The forum also marked the launch of entries for the 2010 CEEQA Awards for business performance and achievement in Central and Eastern European real estate, with the announcement of inclusion of the SEE markets for the first time.
A key note address by EBRD's Director of Property & Tourism, Sylvia Gansser-Potts struck a note of optimism for the markets, highlighting the depth of their interest with 34% of its current 1.9 bln. loan and equity portfolio dedicated to the SEE markets, and stressing efforts to bring commercial banks into the arena by offering extended credit lines and EBRD-backed syndicated finance partnerships. The bank sees a favorable medium term outlook for the region, with the likes of Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia moving into positive growth for 2010 and the remainder joining them in 2011.
A pivotal moment in the forum was the announcement by Eli Alroy, Chairman of GTC and one of the most active and deeply invested developers in the region, that the worst was over, the market had bottomed out and it was a good time for developers but that some governments must do more to speed up tax and statutory process reform to assist investors, a view supported by former Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia and economic advisor to the President, Borislav Skegro, who heads up Croatia's only homegrown fund Quaestus Invest.
Alroy's optimism was shared by two of the leading opportunity investors in the emerging Europe arena, presenter Otis Spencer of Heitman International and panelist H. Cabot Lodge III of WP Carey, who concurred that the quality of produce and higher risk returns offered by the SEE markets will quickly become attractive as the CE markets converge further with western Europe and get too expensive. Both have demonstrated their comm